No. 19-ranked Tommie Women's Soccer simply wanted to move on to Saturday's national quarterfinals as it tried to put away the No. 6-ranked and host Wheaton College Thunder.
Mission accomplished... no thanks to a late penalty kick that Wheaton converted. In the end credit the Toms' persistence and their 4-2 margin in the tie-break shootout of their NCAA Sweet 16-round playoff contest.
It wasn't easy, and it took more energy, stress and time than Coach Sheila McGill would have preferred. But after a lively game with numerous good scoring chances each way, the Toms (17-2-4) find themselves in the final eight of the national playoffs for the first time since 2002.
No. 15-ranked Carnegie-Mellon and No. 17-ranked Ohio Northern are playing the 4 p.m. game, and that winner plays Saturday at 5 p.m. against St. Thomas.
Saturday's loser ties for fifth place in the country, while the winner advances on to the Final Four.
Wheaton is now 28-2-2 at home over the last three seasons and ends this year on a 15-match unbeaten streak (12-0-3). It had a 9-7 edge in shots on goal and a 4-3 edge in corner kicks
In avenging a 2-0 loss to Wheaton to start the 2018 season, St. Thomas extended its current 2019 unbeaten streak to 16 games (12-0-4). The Toms are the first team to score twice in regulation time this season against Wheaton, which allowed just 10 goals in 21 games. The Toms gave up their 10th and 11 goals of the season in their 23rd game.
Wheaton took a 1-0 lead as it converted a cross into the box in the 17th minute. A short time later, the Tommies' Tessa Trettel chipped in a 35-foot shot over the goalie in the 23rd minute to tie the score 1-1, with Kaley Roberts on the assist.
Roberts' header goal in the 68th minute, assisted by Alexa Oldenkamp, gave the Toms their first lead of the day at 2-1.
The Purple defense was getting it done and closing in on an upset victory over 17-1-2 Wheaton, with that one-goal lead still maintained into the game's final few minutes.
Then Wheaton penetrated into the box to the right side, and after a collision, it was awarded a penalty kick in the 87th minute. The Thunder converted the tying goal for a 2-2 score.
After 20 minutes without a score over two overtimes, the game ended as a tie and prompted the shootout.
St. Thomas' Kate Heimer shot first, converted, and set the tone as the Tommies made all four kicks to secure a 4-2 shootout victory.
The Thunder made its first two tries to knot the shootout at 1-1 and 2-2, but caromed its third try off the bar.
After Lauren Wikstrom made the fourth kick for the Purple, Wheaton needed two makes and a Tommie miss to stay alive. It all ended in a Tommie celebration as keeper Sarah Pasternak knocked away the Thunder's fourth kick toward the middle and lifted St. Thomas into Saturday play.
Pasternak had six saves and moved her season record to 10-1-4.
St. Thomas Women's Soccer Team/Program Notes (Postgame Nov. 22)
- Coming off a pair of 1-0 victories at home to open NCAA play to eliminate 14-win Monmouth (Ill.) and 15-win Illinois Wesleyan, extending their home-field unbeaten streak to 26 (10-0-2 this season)
- This is first UST women's soccer team to reach the NCAA quarterfinal or Sweet 16 round since 2002
- Last weekend it was UST's first in women's soccer to open the NCAA playoffs with two wins since 1987.
- Over last three seasons, 7-1-4 postseason record and 28-4-6 mark in October-November games
- School-record 19 victories in 2018
- Current team has 14 shutouts and has allowed just three goals in last nine games
- 4-0-4 in overtime games this season, and 5-2-1 against teams that reached NCAA Division III playoffs
- Junior Paige Cater scored in second OT to win 1-0 at Washington U. and stop a 15-game Bears' home win streak
- Senior Kaley Roberts scored with 12 seconds left in second OT to win 1-0 at St. Mary's on last day of conference season to tie Augsburg for championship
- Tessa Trettel scored in first OT to beat St. Benedict 1-0, and also scored with 61 seconds left in second OT to beat Bethel 2-1
- Senior Elizabeth Luotto scored with 14 seconds left in second OT to win 1-0 at Concordia-Moorhead
- After 1-1 tie through 2 OT, won shootout at Augsburg in conference playoff finals, 6-5, made all six attempts
- Sheila McGill's staff received United Coaches Regional Coaching Staff of the Year in both 2016 and 2018
- Last five Tommie teams have built a 77-17-10 record (49-9-6 against conference foes)
- Swept MIAC regular-season and playoff championships in both 2018 and 2019
- Made conference playoff finals four of the last five seasons
- Received seven All-America honorees since 1997
- 1987 Tommies reached Final Four, 2002 team reached national quarterfinals
- All-American Taryn Theilig (2013-16) was part of 27 shutouts and a 0.75 goals-against average in 58 career starts.
- McGill recently coached her 250th match (159-68-28 overall)
- Has 27 top-five MIAC finishes in 35 seasons, including eight championships and 11 second-place finishes. They've reached the NCAA playoffs 13 times (current streak of four years in a row)
- Lost to Wheaton in the opening game of the 2018 season on a neutral field in Maryland, 2-0, but have built a 35-3-6 record since then. They played at Wheaton as recently as 2013, a 2-0 loss.
- Eliminated in the 2018 NCAA playoffs on the road at UW-La Crosse after a 2-2 tie and a shootout advance for the Eagles
- Junior MF Kate Heimer has a 3.94 grade-point average while majoring in Biology and made CoSIDA Academic All-District; in 64 career games, has 10 goals and 19 assists; team 20-0-1 in games when she scores a goal or an assist
- Sophomore MF Alex Balfour is also on the CoSIDA All-District team with a 4.00 gpa
- Junior keeper Sarah Pasternak, 10-1-4 this fall, had eight saves to shutout Illinois Wesleyan, helping her team avenge a 2-1 loss to the Titans in September
- Junior MF Paige Cater also is a hurdler and 800-meter runner for Tommies' conference champion track and field teams, has been a part of eight MIAC team titles thus far indoors, outdoors, plus soccer regular-season and playoffs