Women’s soccer wins opening round NCAA Tournament game over Depaul 1-0
In the 69th minute of IU’s first-round NCAA Tournament game Saturday against DePaul, freshman midfielder Veronica Ellis subbed in.
Seven minutes later, she found herself at the bottom of a dog pile of overjoyed teammates. She had scored what would prove to be the lone goal of the game — the game-winning goal.
With Ellis’ goal, IU (15-6-1) defeated DePaul (13-6-2) 1-0 at Jerry Yeagley Field to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament where it will face top-seeded North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.
It was the biggest goal of her career, her third game-winner of the season. And it came less than 24 hours after the death of her grandfather.
“It made me think he was just watching over me tonight,” Ellis said.
In the 74th minute, senior midfielder Lisa Nouanesengsy sent a corner kick into the box that was cleared out by the DePaul defense. Junior midfielder Tori Keller gathered the cleared ball and chipped it back into the box.
Senior forward Rebecca Candler gathered the ball and settled it. She drew the DePaul goalie Alejandria Godinez toward her. Candler flicked the ball toward Ellis.
With the DePaul goalie out of place, Ellis got to the ball.
“I saw the keeper coming out,” Ellis said. “I knew that I just had to beat her to it and put it past, just get anything on it.”
Her touch was just enough to send it rolling into the goal.
“She’s a very mature kid,” IU Coach Amy Berbary said of Ellis. “She’s been through a lot in the past 24 hours with her grandfather dying suddenly, and for her to be able to kind of get herself ready for this game and mentally prepare and come in for us — she was big for us.”
The goal came at an opportune time for IU. The Hoosiers dominated possession the entire second half, out shooting DePaul 13-2, but IU could not find a way to get on the scoreboard until Ellis’ goal.
It was the Hoosier defense that was the story for most of the game.
After struggling throughout the Big Ten Tournament, the IU defense was almost perfect Saturday. Senior goalie Shannon Flower recorded a school-record setting ninth shutout of the year while only needing to make two saves.
“I think the defense made my job really easy tonight,” Flower said. “They just held the pressure so high that the forwards couldn’t even turn on them, so really it was all them. I didn’t really have to do too much tonight, which is great.”
Flower made a crucial save in the 86th minute when a DePaul forward found space and had a chance to tie the game. Flower made a step to the left, got in position and made a diving save of a ball seemingly destined for the back post.
“I don’t think your typical goalkeeper saves that,” Berbary said. “We ask our goalkeepers to make one big save a half, and that sure was a big one for us.”
After the game, Berbary was already looking forward to IU’s game against North Carolina.
“Absolutely thrilled. It’s amazing,” Berbary said. “We’re going to their place to play the reigning national champions. If you would have told me that last February when I was hired, I would have told you you were nuts.”
Follow women's soccer reporter Sam Beishuizen on Twitter @Sam_Beishuizen.
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