Ode Fulutudilu scored the winning goal in the 78th minute to give the Lady Flames a rugged 2-1 victory over a battling the University of Concordia. Lee will get a well-deserved rest on Thursday and return to action on Friday at 2 p.m., facing an Olivet Nazarene team that advanced with a 1-0 decision over Texas-Brownsville. On Sept. 15, Lee defeated Olivet by a 1-0 score.
“In my opinion, we played a game that very much resembled a (tournament) final-type match,” said Yelton. “Concordia is an exceptionally well coached team and they threw everything at us. We feel very fortunate to be moving on to the semifinal.”
The win marked Lee’s 23rd straight in NAIA National Championship competition. The Lady Flames now own an extremely impressive 28-3-2 all-time record in the championship competition. Also, it marked the fourth time over the last five seasons Lee has eliminated Concordia from the championship.
The first score of the game came on a penalty kick by senior Amy Cochran. Fulutudilu set up the score when she came charging straight down the middle and was knocked down in the box by a Concordia defender. The score at the 34:34 mark in the first half gave the Lady Flames a 1-0 halftime advantage.
The Oregon club came out seeking revenge in the second half and tied the contest on a goal by Jenna Peterson in the 55th minute. Peterson banged her shot home over the outstretched arms of Lee goalkeeper Leah Wilson.
The remainder of the second half was loaded with action and appeared headed for a possible overtime when Fulutudilu knocked in a goal off a well-played cross by senior Caroline Scales in the 78th minute. “Amy (Cochran) and Caroline (Scales) deserve a lot of credit. They pushed the attack forward all night.”
The Lee defense stepped to the front in the final 12 minutes and helped send the Lady Flames into the semifinal round for the fifth straight year.
“I thought we had to put in a really gritty performance tonight and were never able to get into a rhythm,” admitted Yelton. “Concordia deserves a lot of credit for bringing a game plan that kept us from ever getting comfortable. It is good to be back in the Final Four but I really don’t think we have played our best soccer yet, so hopefully we can find that gear and go find another win.”
Lee managed to get off 10 shots against the well organized Concordia defense. Yelton’s group also placed five of the shots on goal. The Lady Flames’ defense limited Concordia to only eight shots and three were on target. Tori Talbutt had three saves for the losing club and Wilson garnered two for Lee. Neither team could capitalize on corner kicks. The Oregon club was awarded 11 and the Lady Flames 12.
In other semifinal play on Friday, No. 2 Lindsey Wilson will face Spring Arbor (Mich.). Spring Arbor pulled off an upset by advancing on penalty kicks past No. 3 Vanguard (Calif.), while Lindsey Wilson eliminated Embry Riddle (Fla.).
Lindsey Wilson was the first team to punch its ticket to the semifinals with a 3-0 win against No. 7 Embry-Riddle (Fla.). The Blue Raiders, who improved to 6-3-1 in quarterfinal contests since 2000, netted all three goals between the 27th and 35th minute. It’s the third-straight game that Lindsey Wilson has tallied at least two first-half goals. The Blue Raiders are advancing to their first semifinals since 2008. With the loss, Embry-Riddle falls to 0-2-0 all-time in the national championship quarterfinals.
Spring Arbor and No. 3 Vanguard (Calif.), who were both appearing in their first-ever quarterfinals, played to a scoreless draw through 110 minutes of action in the 2012 championship’s first overtime contest. The Lions seized a 3-1 advantage through six penalty kicks, however Spring Arbor converted three of its next four to claim the second spot in the semifinals, 4-3. Friday will be the first-ever appearance for the Cougars in the round of four.
In the nightcap, Rachel Killbry’s game-winner in the 18th minute was the difference as Olivet Nazarene took down unseeded Texas at Brownsville, 1-0. The victory propels the Tigers to their first national championship semifinal appearance in three trips.