WATERTOWN, Wis. -- It was the headline that the Sabercats feared the most: down one goal, the Providence Pilots equalized in the final minute of regulation before winning the regional championship in overtime once again.
The loss concludes the season for Maranatha, who have had their hearts broken at the hands of Providence for the second year in a row.
- Result: Maranatha 2-3 Providence (OT)
- Venue: Maranatha Baptist University
- Location: Watertown, Wis.
- Attendance: 143
- Records: MBU (8-7-1), PUC (11-5-3)
The Sabercats were in dreamland to start the game. Just 10 minutes in, Jaclyn Dahl found space on the left side and crossed it low and hard into the box. After Alexis Sponable couldn't get a toe on it, the ball continued untouched into the path of Amy Montgomery, who slammed it in at the far post to put the Sabercats up, 1-0.
Just five minutes later, Sponable scored her final goal of the season, and it might be the pick of the bunch. The sophomore struck a 35-yard free kick that sailed into the top-left corner. Just 15 minutes into the game, the Sabercats had just the start they wanted and the 2-0 lead.
But Providence looked determined, and they continued to press and create chances in the Sabercats' end of the field. The Pilots finally got on the scoresheet in the 43rd minute when Katerina Cook's effort from outside the box found the back of the net. Going into halftime, the Sabercats still held the lead, but they held it loosely.
The Pilots were relentless in the second half, as they kept the ball in the Sabercats' end for the better part of the 45 minutes. Hannah Wells came up big with a diving save inside the final 10 minutes, but the Pilots' persistence finally created an in-road. With just under a minute left, Makayla Myer's cross from the left baseline found Sofia Beltrame, who flicked her shot into the roof of the net to give the Pilots a devastating equalizer. For the second straight season, the Pilots had forced overtime inside the final minute. Sudden-death overtime was next.
Right away in the overtime period, the Pilots looked to be the more eager team, as they would register 12 shots to the Sabercats' one in the final 19 minutes. Neither team found the back of the net in the first period, and just when the game looked to be headed to penalty kicks, Providence earned a penalty kick with 30 seconds on the clock. The Sabercats' hearts were in their mouths, and just moments later, the ball was in the back of the net and the game was in the record books.
It had all the drama the average fan would hope for from a collegiate regional championship, but it was the wrong kind of drama if you ask the Blue and Gold.
The Sabercats bid farewell to 10 seniors: Hannah Wells, Lindsay Hodgs, Alyssa Wright, Rachel Prigge, Kim Grogan, Leah Ng, Ali Hernandez, Bethany Chesky, Nina Riley, and Shari Moore all ended their Maranatha careers this afternoon.
"I'm really thankful for the opportunity to coach each one of our players," said Coach Dave Anderson at the end of the game. "I'm glad for the strides they've taken individually and collectively this season. Thanks to all of our fans for their support this year from near and far, and thanks to our event staff for their faithful work through the season to put on our games. To every member of our team and staff, it has been my honor to work with each of you this season."
- Sponable: finishes the season with 17 goals
- Montgomery: sixth goal of the year
- Dahl: ends the season with 14 points
- Shot count: MBU 10-25 PUC
- Series: MBU now leads the series, 3-2-1
- Providence earns a return trip to NCCAA Nationals, where they finished runners-up last year
- PUC competes in the MCAC and the NCCAA North Region
- The Pilots finished the regular season scoring over 2 goals per game on average
A full recap of the season, including postseason awards, will be forthcoming at mbusabercats.com.