San Antonio Bound! Emory Advances to NCAA Semifinals on Shootout

After 110 minutes of scoreless soccer and an epic 13-round shootout, which included a pair of saves by goalkeeper Kaele Leonard, sophomore Jennifer Grant knocked in the match-clinching penalty kick to allow the Eagles to advance to the NCAA Semifinals for the first time in school history, with a 0-0 tie against Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.

With the shootout win, the 16th-ranked Eagles will advance to the 'Final Four' of the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championships, where they will meet 11th-ranked Wheaton College (Ill.) on November 30th at 6:00 PM EST.  The semifinal match, along with the championship game, will be played at the Blossom Soccer Complex in San Antonio, Texas.

With two of the nation's top defenses squaring off, the game lived up to its billing, with neither squad able to find the net during regulation or either of the two overtime periods, on limited opportunities.  With the Tartans shooting first in the ensuing shootout, Leonard came up with a save on the first shot, allowing Emory to build a 3-2 advantage on made shots by Clare Mullins, Jordan Morell and Grant. 

After Carnegie made its fourth-round shot to even the shootout at 3-3, Emory's Lauren Drosick missed wide to keep the ledger even.  Following the Tartans hit on their fifth attempt, junior Lauren Gorodetsky followed with a made penalty kick of her own, knotting the score at 4-4 and sending the shootout into extra kicks.

Each team made its next three opportunities with Kelly Costopoulos, Emily Feldman and Merrill Bachouros all hitting shots for the Eagles.  With the score tied at seven heading into the ninth round, Leonard picked up her second save of the shootout, cleanly catching Cecilia Zischkau's shot in midair with a full-extension dive.  However, with a chance to win, Carnegie goalkeeper Anna Albi made her only save of the shootout, diving to save Caitlin Clark's attempt.

The teams would each make their next three attempts, with Veronica Romero hitting the next shot, before returning to the top of the order, with Mullins and Morell each converting shots as well.

With the shootout ledger even at 10 apiece heading into the 13th round, Carnegie's Brittany Couture's shot hit off the right post, giving Emory its second chance to clinch.  Grant would not disappoint for the Eagles, burying the shot to write Emory's ticket to San Antonio.

The shootout was the fifth in Emory's NCAA Tournament history, and the third time that the Eagles have advanced on a shootout.  The 13 rounds were the most in a shootout in the program's history. 

The ample opportunities in the shootout were a stark contrast to the game, where each defense proved to be stingy.  The Eagles had an early opportunity to take a lead in the game when a free kick for the Eagles in the 13th minute set up a header shot that went in the goal, but was negated when Emory was whistled for being offside.

The defensive battled continued without a shot for either side until the 25th minute of play, when Emory sophomore Charlotte Butker launched the first attack of the game wide of the net.  Four minutes later, the Eagles would get their first shot on goal of the contest, when Feldman's shot after a corner kick was deflected by Carnegie goalkeeper Anna Albi, and a return shot from 25-yards out by junior Kaelyn Lucas after an initial clearance by the defense was saved.

Emory held Carnegie without a shot until the 35th minute when the Tartans took a pair in quick succession, neither on goal, with one blocked by the defense and the other wide of the goal.

The Eagles had another good chance to score following free kick at the end of the first half, when the ball came loose in the box, but Albi was able to smother Grant's shot for the save.  On the other side of the field, in the 44th minute, Emory goalkeeper Erica Stein made her only save of the half on a rolling shot by Carnegie's Amanda Broderick.  Emory ended the first half with an 8-3 edge in shots and a 3-1 bump in shots on goal.  The Eagles also took four corner kicks during the first 45 minutes of play, while holding Carnegie without one.

After a physical first half, the field began to open up in the second.  The Tartans came out firing to start the frame, with Savina Reid launching a shot wide of the net, and Rachel Contopoulos placing a free kick on goal that was saved by Leonard, both in the first two and a half minutes of play in the frame.  However, Emory answered back with a run downfield, ending in a touch shot from the near post by Butker that was saved by Albi.

Emory also survived a series of chances by the Tartans in the 53rd minute, when Leonard batted away a corner kick.  After a free kick was awarded to Carnegie moments later, the Eagles' net minder was able to make a diving stop on a low shot by Mitra Ebrahimi to end the threat.

The Eagles' best chance of the half came in the 85th minute when junior Greta Jochmann took a shot on a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box that sailed just wide of the net.  The Eagles and the Tartans ended regulation dead-even with 12 shots and five shots on goal apiece.

Neither team would be able to get a shot off in either of the two ten-minute overtime periods, and, after 220 minutes of scoreless soccer between the two squads this season (including a game earlier this season), the right to advance to the NCAA Semifinals would be decided by the shootout, eventually falling in Emory's favor.

Leonard finished the game with four saves, not including her shootout effort, and lowered her season goals-against average to 0.41.  Mullins, Feldman and Butker led all Eagles in the game with two shots apiece.

With the tie, Emory will enter the semifinals with a season record of 14-1-7.  Carnegie's season came to a close with a 14-1-5 record.

Stay tuned to EmoryAthletics.com for more information on the NCAA Semifinals over the next two weeks.

Emory Notes
The shutout was the 13th of the season for the Eagles, and the third of the NCAA Championships… It was also Emory's 13th NCAA Tournament shutout all-time… Sunday's game was the 10th overtime game of the season for the Eagles, and the ninth time this year an Emory game has gone into a second overtime period… The Eagles are now 2-1-7 in overtime games this season… Emory set a program record with seven ties during the season… The 11-10 Emory shootout win is highest combined scoring total in a shootout in school history, surpassing a pair of 9-8 shootout wins against Trinity in 1998 and Wheaton (IL) in 2010… The game on November 30th will be the first time Emory will face Wheaton since the 2010 NCAA Tournament game… After four University Athletic Association (UAA) team reached the quarterfinals, Emory is the only squad from the conference still alive in the tournament.