KISSIMMEE, FL – The Maranatha women’s soccer team proved to be the better team during regulation on Saturday, in the NCCAA DII National Tournament fifth place game, but the #5 Ohio Christian TrailBlazers came away with the win in a 2-1 shootout thriller.
From the opening kickoff, Maranatha maintained the possession, and it showed, as the Crusaders held a 14-9 shots advantage in the first half alone.
Freshmen Natascha Vinz (Cheboygan, MI) and Courtney Dunn (Oshkosh, WI) each had shots on goal, and the Crusaders followed up with a barrage of shots and several quality scoring opportunities.
On one attempt, Dunn sailed a free kick just over the cross bar, late in the first period, and on another, freshman midfielder Audrey Risma (Fort Collins, CO) attempted a redirect that went just right of the goal post. But neither team held the advantage on the scoreboard with a 0-0 tie at halftime.
Sixteen minutes into the second period, Maranatha’s fortunes were about to change, as an initial block shot found its way to the waiting feet of sophomore forward Olivia Doerstling (Lantana, TX), who buried a shot, effectively giving what seemed to be, the possible game-winner.
The next 11 minutes were slower-paced, as several Maranatha starters rested due to injury or illness, and in the 72nd minute, OCU’s Katelyn Danner (Waynesville, OH) raced past several defenders, and had the option to make a pass across the net, but instead took the direct shot, which ended up being the game-tying goal.
Maranatha applied consistent pressure over the remaining 18 minutes of play and nearly scored at the 86th minute, when Vinz passed to an open Emily Hinsenkamp (Harrison TWP, MI), whose kick was saved by OSU’s keeper. As part of the NCCAA DII Tournament rules, the game went directly into a shootout, with Ohio Christian missing on their first attempt.
Risma gave Maranatha their first penalty kick in the shootout, and Maranatha held a 2-1 edge after Hinsenkamp’s attempt went in. But Ohio Christian once again rallied, to tie, and after three straight misses, two by Maranatha, the Trailblazers took the lead on a goal by Keightly Saultz (Mechanicsburg, PA).
On the next kick, Vinz easily pushed a shot past the outstretched arms of Lexi Shafran (Palm Harbor, FL), evening the shootout at four apiece, but on the next attempt, and ultimately Ohio Christian’s last, Bunny Zenner (Rushville, OH) delivered the game winner, as Maranatha came up just shy on their last attempt.
With the loss, Maranatha took sixth place and sophomore goalkeeper Michala Marino (Grand Blanc, MI) finished with six saves out of seven on goal.
Dunn put together another strong performance with eight shots, four on goa, while Doerstling had four shots and a goal.
Maranatha concludes its season with a 9-10 record, which includes postseason play, and figures to be a contender with all players returning next season.