Losing A PK Shootout Will Break Your Heart.
One is in Cleveland, Tennessee. The other in Portland, Oregon.
They are separated by 2,500 miles, but over the past four years Lee University and Concordia University have built up a competitive soccer rivalry. Usually they have met on the biggest stage, the NAIA national tournament.
So when the Lady Flames came away from a 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Concordia in the 2012 tournament, which was played at Orange Beach, Ala., Lee followers were ready to move on and see their team win the national championship for a fifth straight year.
That never happened! It all came to an end in the semifinals against Olivet Nazarene, making their first-ever appearance in the Final Four.
After two overtime periods with the game still tied 1-1, Lee and Olivet settled the outcome with a penalty kick shootout.
PKs are often a soccer team’s worst nightmare, and that’s exactly what it was for coach Matt Yelton and his Lady Flames.
Lee, which actually outshot Olivet 21-11 during the game, would make only one kick from the penalty mark. The Tigers took four kicks and made them all.
The loss ended an unbeaten streak of 23 straight games for the Lady Flames to finish the year 21-1-2. Lee had entered the national tournament as the #1 seed. They opened with a 2-0 shutout of Northwood.
“We have had a lot of good breaks go our way in the past and over the last four years the ball has bounced our way a lot,” admitted Yelton, after the loss. “Today it did not. We had a bad spell the first 15 minutes of the game and unfortunately that was probably the difference in a win and a loss today.
“Today was a tough day, but it has been an amazing journey to take with this team,”
Olivet would move on to the championship game, where they were beaten by Lindsey Wilson College, 3-2.
Four Lee Lady Flames were named first-team All-America by The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Juniors Ode Fulutudilu (South Africa) and Leah Fortune (West Chicago, IL) earned spots on the elite squad for the second straight year. Fulutudilu, a forward, recorded 10 goals and dished off 10 assists this season. Fortune, a midfielder, finished with a team-leading 16 goals and 10 assists.
A couple of senior wingers, who often pushed the attack for the Lady Flames, also received spots on the first team. Amy Cochran (Yorba Linda, CA) and Caroline Scales (Chattanooga, TN) joined the list of 13 first teamers. Senior Kim Conrad (Murfreesboro, TN) and sophomore Laura Thacker (England) were named to the second team.