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Harold's Heroics Lift SPU to GNAC Title
Play Video Seattle Pacific was crowned the 2013 GNAC Women's Soccer Champion after defeating Western Washington in a penalty kick shootout.
Seattle Pacific was crowned the 2013 GNAC Women's Soccer Champion after defeating Western Washington in a penalty kick shootout.
SPU's Laura Moore leaps into the arms of teammate Hannah Huesers (13) after the freshman's goal in the 88th minute gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead.
SPU's Laura Moore leaps into the arms of teammate Hannah Huesers (13) after the freshman's goal in the 88th minute gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

TUKWILA, Wash. - Two saves from Seattle Pacific goalkeeper Natalie Harold in a penalty kick shootout elevated the Falcons to a victory over Western Washington in the 2013 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Women's Soccer Championship Tournament finals Saturday afternoon at Starfire Sports Complex.

With a goal from Hannah Huesers in the final three minutes of regulation, it appeared that SPU would capture a 1-0 victory over WWU and avenge two prior 2-1 defeats at the hands of the Vikings this season. Huesers gathered the ball inside the 18-yard box and fired a shot that deflected off of a WWU defender and past a misdirected WWU goalkeeper Alyssa Beauchamp to nearly seal the win for SPU.

With time winding down however, WWU mustered up one final effort.

As the 10-second countdown began in the 90th minute, Ashton Griffen lined up a corner kick for the Vikings and sent a cross into a box with 20 players inside of it. Viking forward Catherine Miles miraculously pushed the ball across the goal line, tying the score at 1-1 with 10 seconds on the clock to send the game into overtime.

The teams battled tough through both 10-minute extra periods, but neither broke the deadlock as the game headed to a decisive penalty kick shootout.

SPU's Heather Young got the Falcons on the board first as she converted her penalty, and Maddie Krauss followed with a successful conversion on SPU's second attempt. In between, however, Harold stunned WWU's Kim Cooper as she dove to her left to deny the shot.

As GNAC leading scorer Miles stepped to the spot after SPU's second conversion, Harold again denied a sure-fire goal, diving to her left to deflect the ball. Ashley Shaw put through SPU's third good penalty, and a conversion by WWU's Kristin Maris was not enough as Arden Matro delivered the championship-clinching strike on the next shot.

Harold was named Tournament Most Valuable Player for her nine-save effort that pushed her team to the title.

Five minutes into the contest, SPU combined three passes in the offensive third that put the ball at the foot of Krauss inside of the 18-yard box. She curled a shot towards the goal that got past Beauchamp, but it glanced off of the left post and was cleared by the Vikings' back line.

Elise Aylward countered a few minutes later with a shot from the right side of the penalty area, but it rolled harmlessly out of play wide of the frame.

The Vikings nearly broke the stalemate early in the second, as Aylward edged her way into the 18-yard box. The ball was crossed in to her, but Harold closed quickly to smother the shot out of play.

Delanee Nilles created a prime scoring opportunity, settling the ball off of her chest inside the box. She turned and fired a quick left-footed shot that glanced off the inner right post and into the hands of Harold.

SPU had an equally dangerous chance with 18 minutes remaining as Emma Holm launched a deep shot that rattled off of the crossbar.

With the victory SPU earned the GNAC's automatic bid to the 2013 NCAA Division II West Regional Tournament, while the Vikings will need to earn an at-large berth to qualify.

The NCAA will announce the playoff schedule Monday at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time.

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