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Southeast women top Samford in OT to reach final round
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Before this year, Southeast Missouri State had never beaten Samford in women's soccer.
That all changed Friday night -- and now the Redhawks are one win away from their first NCAA tournament berth.
The Redhawks overcame a 2-0 second-half deficit and scored the game-winning goal with just 26 seconds left in the second sudden-death overtime period to stun top-seeded and host Samford 3-2 in the semifinals of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.
Southeast, the No. 4 seed for the six-team event, will play second-seeded Morehead State at 2 p.m. Sunday. The winner earns an automatic NCAA berth.
"It's a great feeling to finally beat Samford, but we still have one more game to go and we have to stay focused," Southeast coach Heather Nelson said.
Samford (11-4-3) has ruled the OVC since joining the conference in 2003. The Bulldogs have won all four regular-season OVC titles and last year captured their first league tournament crown.
The Bulldogs entered play Friday having not lost in their last 15 OVC matches.
But the Redhawks (9-7-2) played host Samford to a scoreless tie on Oct. 22 and they entered Friday's contest confident.
"I've felt all along that this team reacts well under pressure," Nelson said. "We showed it tonight."
Particularly after Southeast, trailing 1-0 at halftime, fell behind 2-0 barely 6 minutes into the second half.
"We were still confident we could come back, and after we got our first one it seemed like it really settled us down," Southeast sophomore Casey Kraft said.
Kraft scored less than a minute after Samford's second goal, off an assist from junior Megan Matter, to put the Redhawks right back in the game.
Less than 4 minutes after that, Kraft scored again, off an assist from freshman Courtney Alexander, to forge a 2-2 tie with nearly 35 minutes still remaining in regulation.
That's the way things stood entering the first of potentially two 10-minute sudden-death overtime periods.
Neither team scored in the first extra session. When the squads still failed to find the net through 9-plus minutes of the second overtime, it appeared as if the game would be decided on penalty kids.
But with just 26 seconds remaining, junior Alaina Lacopo took a pass from Kraft and sent a one-timer from the right side of the box into the net.
It was jubilation time for the Redhawks.
"It was amazing," Kraft said. "It was unbelievable, to win a game like that."
Added Nelson: "It says a lot about our girls, to be down 2-0 against a team like Samford and come back."
Southeast and Morehead State (8-7-3) battled to a scoreless tie on Oct. 14 in Cape Girardeau3