ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – History was made when the No. 12 seeded Olivet Nazarene University women’s soccer team defeated No. 5 seed University of Mobile (Ala.) 1-0 on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at the 29th NAIA National Championship Tournament in Orange Beach, Ala. The win marked the first time in the history of the program that the Tigers have advanced into the final eight teams at the national tournament.
In the 23rd minute of play, senior Jordan Wallek (Chicago Heights, Ill.) fed a pass to sophomore Jessica Higer (Kuna, Idaho) who split the defenders to beat the goal-keeper one-on-one and put the Tigers on the board. Olivet then looked to its consistently strong defense to do its job and finish off the Rams.
Mobile took a total of 14 shots on the night, but was limited to just five in the second period while the Tigers held the lead. Senior goal-keeper Wendy Espejel (Ontario, Cal.) posted her 15 shut-out of the season, finishing with five saves, all in the first half.
Seniors Devin Johnston (Bloomingdale, Ill.), Katrina Holm (Antioch, Ill.), Katie Dirkse (Downers Grove, Ill.) and junior Rachel Kilbry (Spring Lake, Ill.) have anchored a defense which has allowed just eight goals on the season. They have limited their opposition to just 5.1 shots per game.
“I am really proud of the girls,” said head coach Bill Bahr. “They remained composed when game Mobile was pressuring and regrouped very well after the half to close the game. Wendy [Espejel] had a fantastic game and Jessica’s [Higer] goal was perfect.”
The Tigers will face the University of Texas-Brownsville (16-3-1) at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow evening. The Scorpions are the only unseeded team remaining from the original field of 31 teams, and Olivet and Texas-Brownsville are the only two lower seeded teams to win in the second round of play. Texas-Brownsville advanced by defeating Oklahoma City on Monday.