Senior defender Hali Oughton
Oct. 31, 2012
EL PASO, Texas -Tulsa senior forward Rebeca Handley headed home her team-leading eighth goal of the season to propel TU to a 1-0 overtime victory against East Carolina in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Conference USA Women's Soccer Championship at UTEP's University Field Wednesday.
Junior midfielder Jordan O'Brien played a beautiful ball off a corner kick to set up Handley's golden goal at the 95:48 mark.
The fifth-seeded Golden Hurricane (12-5-3) will now face top seed Colorado College at 6:30 p.m. (ET) Friday in the semifinals. The Pirates (10-7-3) bow out of the league's pinnacle event after a solid 2012 season.
Both sides registered 17 shots in the tilt, though TU held advantages in shots on goal (6-2) and corner kicks (10-1). ECU junior goalkeeper Christian Cordero delivered five saves while the Golden Hurricane's Hayley Harryman made a pair of saves en route to posting a clean sheet.
Tulsa showed good form early, earning a corner kick in the opening minute of the game but couldn't convert.
ECU asserted itself well after conceding that initial corner, controlling play for the next 15 minutes. Its best chance in the sequence came in the seventh minute. The squads' leading scorer Chrissy Gratz danced into the box only to have her shot blocked by the TU defense. The loose ball was corralled by Caty Butler, who fired a shot that sailed just wide.
The Golden Hurricane settled down, drawing a good chance off a free kick just past midfield. Claire Hulcer delivered a well-placed, long ball to the far post where O'Brien elevated above the defense to redirect a powerful header. It snuck just over the crossbar, settling on top of goal at 16:30.
TU continued to keep play in the ECU portion of the pitch following the effort, earning a pair a corner kicks. The Pirates did good work in the air, though, to clear away the respective services at 21:17 and 26:17. The Golden Hurricane then used a good sequence of passes to set up Hulcer, who struck it well but straight into the chest of Cordero at 33:54.
Four minutes later, Raven Tatum laid the ball off for an onrushing Stephanie Aiken. She raced in on a partial breakaway on the right wing, having played the give-and-go to perfection. Cordero rushed out, effectively cutting down the angle, which forced Stephanie Aitken to pull her shot wide.
ECU generated a couple of chances late in the stanza but it could not find paydirt. Gratz's shot was blocked by the TU defense while Kelley Johnson's rebound try sailed well high.
Both sides resorted to shots from distance in the opening stages of the second half, but the keepers were well positioned to snuff out the chances. Tulsa applied good pressure, resulting in consecutive corner kicks in the 58th minute. Tight marking by the Pirates prevented them from capitalizing.
With the match still scoreless, neither squad wanted to give up anything easy. There was one final noteworthy chance down the stretch, with a header struck by both ECU senior Hali Oughton and a Tulsa defender sailing past the outstretch hands of Harryman. It clanked off the crossbar, back into play and was cleared with 36 seconds to play in regulation.