Women's soccer goes to semifinals in NCAA tournament

The Carnegie Mellon University women’s soccer team had an amazing two games last week, one of which saw history being made.

On Friday, the Carnegie Mellon women faced Ohio Northern University in the NCAA tournament Round of 16. The Tartans started very strong, with junior Taylor Cammarata getting the first shot on goal just over a minute into the game. The Tartans continued to press forward, with further shots from Cammarata and sophomore Maddy Lui. The Tartans looked sure to open the scoring, and they did just that. A superb corner kick delivered by senior Tara Durstewitz accompanied by a close-range controlled finish by first-year Rachel Legg putting the hosts 1-0 up.

The Tartans continued to dominate in terms of possession for the rest of the first half, but no significant opportunities presented themselves until the 41st minute. A second corner kick delivered by Durstewitz was unsuccessfully cleared by Ohio Northern, and the ball found its way back to Durstewitz whose clinical cross was met by the head of sophomore Julianne Tippett. The powerful header put the ball in the back of the net and put the hosts at a 2-0 advantage over the visitors going into halftime.

The second half progressed much like the first, with there being no doubt that the Tartans were in control of the game. Shots from across the entire team consistently threatened the Ohio Northern goal, and there was an anticipation of a third goal. Once again, Durstewitz was involved in the scoring, though this time, not from the delivery. A powerful shot off her right foot from 24 yards out soared past the opposing goalkeeper to put The Tartans up 3-0. After Durstewitz’s two prior involvements, she now had a goal of her own.

The scoreline persisted until the end of the game and spurred the Tartans through to the NCAA sectional finals at Wheaton College, where they faced University of St. Thomas.

Once again, the first shot on goal came from Cammarata. This time it was in the third minute. However, St. Thomas proved a considerably formidable opponent, and held off the Carnegie Mellon offensive attack. The Tartans had a strong showing as well, holding onto the clean sheet despite numerous shots from the Tommies. Going into halftime, however, the scoreline remained untouched.

Both teams doubled down on their efforts in the second half, but were met with equally vigorous opposition. St. Thomas looked dangerous in the last half hour and created several chances for themselves, but all of the Tommies’ shots on goal were denied by Carnegie Mellon goalkeeper and senior Andrea Sipos. With the score still locked at 0-0, the game headed into extra time.

The 30 minutes of extra time saw no development in terms of the score. Though both teams managed to get shots on goal, none of them found the back of the net. With 110 minutes gone, the game progressed into the penalty shootout, which saw junior Carolyn Botz placed in goal for the Tartans.

A missed second shootout attempt from the penalty spot put Carnegie Mellon, who were shooting first, in a precarious position. At 4-4, an extreme sense of nervousness moved through the Tartans as St. Thomas prepared to take their fifth penalty. If scored, it would end the shootout 4-5. The attempt missed its mark, however, keeping the Tartans’ championship hopes alive and sending the shootout into sudden death.

Both sides successfully made their sixth shootout attempts from the spot, and Alex Adams coolly placed the seventh attempt into the back of the net for the Tartans to make the scoreline 6-5. As the crowd watched with bated breath, the corresponding Tommies’ player took her shot. A phenomenal save from Botz denied St. Thomas, and ended the shootout at 6-5 and the game in favor of the Tartans.

With their victory over University of St. Thomas, this Carnegie Mellon women’s soccer team advanced past the tournament quarterfinals for the first time in university history, and became the first women’s team from Carnegie Mellon University to reach the semifinals of an NCAA tournament, where they will face the winner of the Messiah College and Williams College match.