COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – In the bitter cold Friday night, the Pioneers' historic season came to an end when they fell to Dixie State on penalty kicks 2-2 (4-3) in the first round of the NCAA South Central Region Tournament.
"We showed resiliency throughout the night," head coach Babak Abouzar said. "I told our girls after the game that there's no reason to hold our heads down. There's only going to be one team that's happy at the end of the season."
After an unexpected heavy snowfall overnight, the start time was moved from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. to allow facilities personnel to use a snowplow and shovels to clear the turf field. The evening temperature was 22 degrees, the coldest weather TWU has ever played in.
The Pioneers found themselves in a hole after relinquishing a goal in the 21' when the Trailblazers sent a cross in from the left and got a shot to cross the line. Less than nine minutes later, TWU struck for the equalizer. Kaylee Rekieta played the ball to Keely Chapman who got around a defender, dribbled into the center of the box, and hammered home the goal to tie the game up 1-1 at 28:57.
The teams stayed battled in a deadlock until the Trailblazers (10-3-6) went up 2-1 at 51:03 on a shot that found the bottom right of the net. The Pioneers responded immediately one minute and 45 seconds later on a goal from Riley Sutton with Rekieta getting her second assist of the night.
The Pioneers had multiple chances to score the game-winning goal in the latter part of the second half and both overtime periods but couldn't convert.
DSU outshot TWU 20-15, and senior goalkeeper Daniela Marin ended her Pioneer career with a game-high six saves.
TWU (15-5-1) set the program record for most wins in a single season and second-most shut outs with 10. This 2019 team has set the foundation for success of many teams to come.
"We have a lot to be proud of," Abouzar said. "This opportunity was a great experience, and it's something that we're going to continue to strive for to get back here soon. Now that this team has had a taste of success, we'll be hungry to duplicate it in years to come. Our seniors left the program in really good hands for our returners to continue to build on it."
Along with Marin, the senior class includes Brittany Jones, Hannah Schneider, Maddi Nolton, Cassidy Leake, and Natalie Gibbs.
Jones, a fifth-year senior, explained what this team has accomplished.
"For me that just means that every year we set a higher standard for ourselves and every year we expected more from each other," Jones said. "This team that we have today is a resilient family and that's what we cherish, and next year we want to go further."