Nov. 14, 2003


Norse advance in NCAA Tournament past Ashland

ALLENDALE, Mich. - Before last Sunday, the Northern Kentucky University women’s soccer program had never been involved in a penalty-kick shootout in its seven years of varsity competition.

But in the past six days, the Norse have twice gone to shootouts to decide the winner.

A week ago in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament title match, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside bested NKU in a penalty-kick shootout, 3-2, ending the Norse’s five-year reign as GLVC champion. That marked the first time in history NKU had gone to penalty kicks.

So guess what happened Friday during the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament against Ashland University? After battling to a 1-1 tie in two overtimes, once again it came down to a penalty-kick shootout. This time, though, NKU prevailed by a 4-3 score to advance to the Great Lakes Region championship match at 1 p.m. Sunday against top-seeded Grand Valley State University (17-1-2).

“Ashland has a tremendous team, and we are pleased to get the win this time in the shootout,” NKU head coach Bob Sheehan said. “Both teams competed very hard, Ashland has very talented players and it’s a good feeling to come out on top in this one.”

With the shootout tied at 3-3, Katie Hanck gave NKU the victory by drilling a penalty kick past Ashland goalie Patti Cooke on the final attempt. It marked the third straight season that NKU (16-2-4) has eliminated Ashland from the NCAA Tournament.

During the shootout, NKU goalie Sam Westerling blocked Ashland’s first two kicks as the Norse built a 1-0 lead. Bobbi Meister, Amy Martini and Katie Kugele each converted penalty kicks during the shootout before Hanck gave NKU the victory with her score.

Ashland (16-1-2) took a 1-0 lead in the first half when Tara Pifer scored a goal that was assisted by Maria Manzo. The second-seeded Eagles outshot third-seeded NKU 10-1 in the first half and held a 1-0 advantage at the break.

NKU tied the contest at 1-1 at the 59:40 mark when Kendra Zinser took a pass from Krista Rogers and found the net for her 10th goal of the season.

“Krista played that ball across the middle, and Kendra did a great job of dribbling and finishing for the goal,” Sheehan said.

The NKU/Grand Valley State winner will advance to the NCAA Division II quarterfinals next weekend. Earlier this season, Grand Valley State posted a 1-0 win over NKU at the Town & Country Sports Complex in Wilder, Ky.

Katie Hanck