The second-ranked Carson-Newman Eagles season came to a close on Saturday in dramatic fashion after a 1-1 tie through 110 minutes with No. 1 Central Missouri sent the game to penalty kicks. The Jennies prevailed 5-3 capping off a 26-0 campaign to win their first ever National Championship.
"That was a very hard fought game," Carson-Newman coach Simon Duffy said. "It's just a tough way to lose it in the end. Credit to Central Missouri. Congratulations to them and their coach on a fantastic season.
The Eagles (21-1-1) will remain without a blemish on their 2017 record excluding penalty kicks, while finishing with a program-high in wins.
According to the NCAA rule book, only in the NCAA Championship match does a decision in penalty kicks count as a win and/or a loss for the teams. Through conference tournament and NCAA tourney play, any situation is recorded as a tie.
Other records include being the only South Atlantic Conference women's soccer program to make it to the national final, as well as the first Carson-Newman women's program to accomplish the same feat.
D2CCA and United Socccer Coaches' First-Team All-American forward Lauren Wade broke through for the Eagles in the 19th minute, silencing the crowd of Jenny faithful who were a mere 45 minutes away from the site of competition.
A header from junior Catarina Realista found the foot of Holly Talbut-Smith at the top of the 18-yard box who back heeled the first touch to a streaking Wade as she beat fellow All-American goalkeeper Ana Dilkes with her left foot for her 18th goal of the season.
It marked just the fifth goal allowed by Dilkes all season and just the second time the Jennies had trailed since conceding a goal to Emporia State in the 14' minute on Oct. 13.
"We had good combination play," Wade said of the setup. "I took a touch away from the defender. The keeper was coming out near my hips. I played the ball through into the back of the net."
With the Eagles holding the 1-0 advantage, it was the first time all year the Jennies trailed following 45 minutes of play.
C-N had opportunities late to put the game out of reach, but Dilkes was there to answer the call, proving that she was a three-time All-American.
The senior net minder stopped one-on-one opportunities from both Wade and Jaidyn Zapf in the waning minutes, keeping the Eagle offense at bay.
Thirty-seconds was all that needed to pass for the Eagles to claim the title before a foul called by the referee in the 18-yard box gave the Jennies an opportunity to come even.
Junior Jada Scott, who was taken down on the play, lined up for the penalty kick opportunity. UCM was a solid five-for-six on the year on penalty kick opportunities, as Scotts shot to the left side of the net caught Burns leaning the opposite way to bring the game even.
Ample chances from both C-N and UCM in the overtime periods were thwarted off by Dilkes and Jackie Burns.
The sophomore Burns was solid in net all afternoon long stopping all nine of the Jennies shots on net, two of which came in the extra periods.
No National Championship in the history of D2 women's soccer had been decided by penalty kicks since the first game in 1988.
The last time C-N went to penalties came in 2008 against Catawba in the SAC final.
After trading goals in the first three rounds, UCM connected in the fourth round before Dilkes stopped Holly-Talbut Smith's chance, putting the final on the foot of Abby Rhodes.
Rhodes shot was initially deflected by Burns before catching momentum and spinning its way inside the left post.
The last loss in penalties for the Eagles came all the way back in 1998 against Lenoir-Rhyne in the SAC tournament.
Although her sophomore season wrapped up in emotional fashion, the Cookstown, Northern Ireland native already holds career-records at Carson-Newman. Her 38 victories and 25 clean sheets sit atop the record books.
Four Eagles were named to the 2017 NCAA Division II Women's Soccer Championships All-Tournament Team: Magda Mosengo, Helen Seed, Wade and Averi Williams.
Mosengo (London, England) recorded eight goals in five NCAA tourney games to become C-N's all-time leader in postseason scoring.
Williams (Powell, Tenn.) was an integral part of an Eagles defense who allowed just one goal through the NCAA final excluding penalty kick tallies.
As for seniors Helen Seed and Lauren Wade, their historic careers as an Eagle will be remembered by many.
Both players received All-Conference, All-Tournament, All-Region, All-American honors and more, etching the most impressive of resumes in all of D2.
Seed (Preston, England) will finish with the fourth-most minutes played in the history of the women's soccer program at Carson-Newman tallying 6821. She started in 77 games over her four-career which is also good for third-best all-time. Her 23 games started in 2017 tie a program record for a single season, recording 2079 minutes in the process for fifth all-time.
Wade (Coleraine, Northern Ireland) finishes her career with an abundance of records. She ranks first all-time in assists per game (.60), shots per game (6.20) and shots on goal per game (3.35).
Notably, she is third all-time in assists with 24 and goals with 38. She collected a point total of an even 100 in just two seasons. This year's 81 shots on goal and seven game-winning goals pen her name at the top for single-season records.
"It's been special," Duffy reflected. "I consider myself very lucky this year. Lauren Wade and Helen Seed - you think we only lose two seniors but that is a heck of two seniors to replace. Our coaching staff and every one at Carson-Newman from the President to the Athletic Director who took a chance on me."
"I absolutely love this team," Wade said. "I wish I could stay for longer. The girls, every single one of them, have been fantastic this year. We have grown so much. We have stuck together. Hopefully the girls will all stick together for next season. It's a very exciting time for this team. I'm just gutted for all the girls. It's football, a love/hate relationship."