- Result: Maranatha 1-2 Providence (OT)
- Venue: Emmaus Bible College
- Attendance: 69
- Record: Sabercats finish the season at 6-8-1
DUBUQUE, Iowa -- With one hand already on the regional championship banner, the Sabercats lost an overtime heartbreaker to Providence-Manitoba on a cold, rainy day in Iowa.
The Sabercats were bound for Nationals, but an equalizing goal from Providence came with just 14 seconds left. Providence quickly scored in overtime to secure the win.
The Sabercats got on the board early when Alexis Sponable - who had scored 16 goals on the season coming into the game - delivered a pinpoint free kick from the right side of the box. Charging in about 6 yards from goal was Alison Hernandez, who bravely slid to poke her finish under the oncoming Kiran Hodges to give MBU the early lead. Hernandez finished the play with a mud-stained jersey but had the go-ahead goal for her troubles.
From that point on, Providence peppered the MBU goal with shots, but Hannah Anderson made 4 saves in the first half alone.
Providence persisted through the second half, as they fired 18 shots through the second 45-minute segment. Only two of those shots forced a save from the diligent Anderson.
Providence's pressure continued until the final minute, which looked to be heralding victory for MBU.
The Pilots had other plans, however.
As the clock was ticking down, Julika Phommarath broke up the middle and charged into the Sabercats' box on a breakaway. Anderson did well to close down Phommarath's space, but Phommarath did even better. The veteran midfielder showed aplomb to chip the ball past the oncoming Anderson and into the left side-netting.
When the horn sounded, the game headed to overtime. And for the second consecutive game, the Sabercats found themselves on the receiving end of the dreaded "golden goal."
In the overtime period, Phommarath's corner kick was met by the head of Chelsey Engel, who nodded the well-placed serve into the bottom corner.
Just like that, the Sabercats' season was over, and Providence had punched their ticket South for the upcoming national tournament.
This is the first time since 2011 that the Sabercats have not won their region.
Hernandez's goal was her third of the season and her third career goal in a regional championship game.
Anderson made 6 saves in the loss.
This was PUC's first win over MBU. The Sabercats now lead the series at 3-1-1.
The Pilots out-shot the Sabercats 29-6.
THE SOUND BITE
"I'm totally gutted for our girls," said Coach Dave Anderson after the game. "I can't imagine a more difficult way to lose a final. But, I am so proud of the effort they gave today. We were up against a more physical, athletic side. So many tough performances today. Big congrats to Providence on progressing. We wish them all the best as they represent the North Region at the national tournament.
"Also, a big thank you to our seniors: "JJ" and Hannah. They led their team well this year. They have both shown great character and resilience that will carry them on as they finish up their degrees and head into the next season of life."
THE WRAP UP
A full recap of the season will be announced soon.