Junior midfielder Haley Kemper’s goal in the 109th minute of action lifted the No. 3 Eastern Kentucky University soccer team past No. 2 Tennessee Tech, 1-0, in the first Ohio Valley Conference semifinal game at Cutchin Field on Friday.
The dramatic win sends EKU (11-4-4) to its second consecutive OVC title game.
Coming into the game, the Colonels were looking to avenge their 2-0 loss to Tennessee Tech (9-5-3) during the regular season. It was a tough task, especially going up against TTU goalkeeper Kari Naerdermann, the three-time defending OVC Defensive Player of the Year who had not surrendered a goal in over a month.
It was a defensive battle for a majority of the game, but with two minutes remaining in the second overtime, junior midfielder Bailly Bounds placed a corner kick at the top of the box that allowed Kemper to sky for the ball and head it through the back of the net.
Both Kemper, who recorded her second goal of the year, and Bounds, who now leads EKU with four assists, were named to the All-OVC Second Team at yesterday’s OVC Awards banquet.
“We could not be more proud of the grit and determination the players showed today,” head coach Nick Flohre said after his team’s big win. “Tennessee Tech is a very good team and, in a tournament game, the intensity is at a much higher level.”
Senior goalkeeper Anna Hall recorded six saves on the afternoon to earn her seventh shutout of the season. The Golden Eagles had multiple chances to put the game away, but Hall made numerous big saves to keep the game alive. In the 86th minute, off a shot by Mayra Manzanal, Hall extended her foot to block the ball and preserve the game. Then, in the 102nd minute, Hall made another critical save when she went upstairs to block a TTU shot that would have ended the game.
The Ross, Ohio native has now tied Stephanie Lynch’s career shutouts record at EKU (23).
Hall was not the only Colonel to get on the goal-saving action. In the 26th minute, Hall gave chase to a ball that managed to get past her. Senior defender Makenna Sullivan did not want her career to end just yet, and stepped in the path of the ball to prevent it from sailing into the back of the net.
Eastern managed to fire off 10 shots, five being on target. Senior forward and All-OVC first team selection Jordan Foster led the Colonels with four shots on the afternoon, three of those being on goal.
Sullivan, Kemper, senior midfielder Allison Werner and freshman defender and All-OVC Newcomer selection Katie Shaffer never left the field in the Colonels’ dramatic win.
Katie Shipley led Tennessee Tech with four shots, one being on frame.
“Our players stepped up to the challenge and did everything they could to get us to Sunday,” Flohre continued.
The Colonels will play the winner of No. 1 Murray State / No. 5 Southeast Missouri on Sunday afternoon for the OVC title. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET.
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Associate Director of EKUSports Communications