ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – When all was said and done at the 2014 NAIA National Championship Final on Saturday, the University of Northwestern Ohio women’s soccer team came up just short of a national title. Head Coach Stuart Gore, though, was still proud of his team because of how it played.
“I could not be prouder of the ladies,” Gore remarked after the 3-0 defeat suffered by UNOH (22-2-1) against Lindsey Wilson College (18-3-3). “This tournament is such a grind, and the way my team fought was unbelievable.”
The Racers came out and had some decent chances early in the match, with their best scoring opportunity coming midway through the first half. The Racers moved the ball along the end line on the right wing, sending a pass in front from Hanna Ruihomaa who put one by Lindsey Wilson goalkeeper Johanna Henriksson with a hurried touch, but the ball went wide of the left post. As the half wore on, it looked like the teams would go to intermission scoreless, but with 1:38 to go in the opening period, Lindsey Wilson’s Ayaki Shinada eluded the Racers’ defense at the top of the box and looped a shot past the outstretched hand of Nadine Stonjek and just inside the right goalpost to give the Blue Raiders a 1-0 halftime lead.
The goal provided a boost to Lindsey Wilson, and the Blue Raiders controlled the possession for much of the second half, and in the 64th minute, Anna Vig faked a move toward the middle, then pulled the ball back to the left wing side before lofting a shot over Stonjek and just inside the far post to double the Blue Raiders’ lead. Just over three minutes later, Vig added a second goal to cap the scoring and seal Lindsey Wilson’s fourth NAIA National Championship in the last 10 seasons.
“By the end of the tournament, both teams are running on adrenaline, and that first goal is so critical,” Gore noted. “They got a tremendous lift from it, and it really took the wind out of our sails. But looking at all we accomplished this week, beating the defending Champions and the number one seed in consecutive matches, and breaking an NAIA record that stood for 25 years, we have a lot to be proud of.”
Stonjek (22-2-1) finished the season with the lowest goals against average in the NAIA at 0.39 – allowing 10 goals in nearly 2300 minutes of action. Alice Coyne finished as the NAIA leader in game-winning goals with nine, and the Racers 20 shutouts in a new NAIA-best.
Coyne, Darcey James, and Danielle Connolly were named to the all-tournament team, with Connolly taking home Defensive Player of the Tournament honors.
The loss ends the careers of Coyne and Connolly – the Racers’ only two seniors.