The Canes have done it again. With a double-overtime goal in the 102nd minute from freshman Ashley Flinn, the UM women’s soccer team defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The Hurricanes have made a name for themselves with last-minute heroics, as this is their third double-overtime victory of the season. With the win, Miami advances to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.
“It’s hard to put into words right now,” head coach Tom Anagnost said. “This was the biggest game in our program’s history, and we’re all elated.”
Despite the Hurricanes’ strong offensive start with a flurry of shots from juniors Kate Howarth and Jordan Roseboro, and sophomore Tara Schwitter, Alabama drew first blood on a header goal by sophomore Kendall Khanna in the 20th minute, which came on a cross from junior Ashley Willis.
The Canes did not trail for long, as freshman Shannon Caspar scored a header goal off a cross from Ashley Flinn in the 29th minute. Tenacious goaltending by senior keeper Vikki Alonzo held the Crimson Tide scoreless for the rest of the period, and the two teams headed into halftime tied at 1-1.
The second half featured aggressive play from both sides. Alonzo kept up her stonewall goalkeeping with the help of a strong defensive line led by junior Ali Brennan.
In the 71st minute, Alabama finally broke through with a goal from freshman Laura Lee Smith, assisted by junior Katelyn Smith off a rebounded save.
True to Hurricane form, UM wasted no time in returning fire. On a free kick from Schwitter, Howarth sent a header goal sailing past Tide goalkeeper Justine Bernier in the 77th minute to tie the game at 2-2. The goal was Howarth’s 11th of the season.
The remaining minutes of regulation ticked away without a goal from either team, and the scoreless play continued through an additional 10 minutes of overtime.
Finding themselves in a familiar sudden-death situation, the Hurricanes capitalized on an opportunity in the second overtime period in dramatic fashion. Flinn buried the game-winning goal in the 102nd minute on a well-placed through ball from Howarth.
“It was a back-and-forth, really exciting match,” Anagnost said. “We’re really proud of our women. This is a really special group – they’re just never ever down and out. They just fight and claw to the very end.”
The Hurricanes will face Long Beach State in a second-round matchup on Friday.