The women’s soccer team lost Saturday in Texas and was eliminated from the NCAA Division III Championships in the first round, falling just short of No. 2 Hardin-Simmons University 1-0.
The unranked women faced off against the second ranked team at the host school Trinity University in San Antonio, knowing they would face stiff competition from the unbeaten Cowgirls.
“Our team came out and gave it their absolute all,” said Head Coach Courtney Calderon. “I’m sad it’s over but I’m happy they got here and had the experience.” The difference maker in the game came early when junior forward Taylor Thigpen scored for the Cowgirls in the 10th minute.
“We actually came out a lot stronger after they scored on us,” said junior forward Val Sobol. “They got a lot of shots on us the first half, but we came out the second half and turned that around.”
Chapman was subjected to a barrage of shots in the first half, with Hardin- Simmons logging 15 shots to Chapman’s three.
“[Hardin-Simmons] are very talented and very fast,” Calderon said. “We matched up well but just couldn’t get that goal. They had scored goal after goal on corners and we didn’t give them one.”
As was the case in previous games, the Panthers came out in the second half looking like a much stronger team and allowed the Cowgirls only four shots in the half.
“We were able to win a lot of the 50/50 balls and control the possession,” said freshman forward Baylor Hogan. “But ultimately we just didn’t get as many shots on goal as we needed and we didn’t capitalize on our chances.”
The loss spelled the end to a successful season for the women, one that had seen them win their first SCIAC title with a 9-5 league record and 16 wins.
“We came together as a team at the right time,” Calderon said. “I am so proud of my team and honestly couldn’t be happier with them.”
In its first season in the SCIAC, the team was able to win the league championship despite being underdogs. Five Panthers – senior midfielder Karina Cisneros, sophomore goalkeeper Marissa Fehrman, Sobol, senior defender Carly Sanchez and sophomore forward Rebeccah Bortz – were also named All-SCIAC team selections.
“Our seniors brought a great legacy winning our first SCIAC championship and taking us so far,” Calderon said. “This is one special group of women. It’s hard to get 10 women on the same page, let alone 29, but that’s what we had.”
As the team deals with the disappointment of leaving the tournament, the focus has shifted to growing as a team.
“We were upset that we lost the game and that we won’t be continuing, but as a team this season has been phenomenal,” Hogan said. “We got to come out to Texas and are SCIAC champs despite most people thinking we didn’t have a shot of making it to playoffs. Instead of looking at losing the game we are looking at what a spectacular season we had.”