UCO Soccer

University of Central Oklahoma goalkeeper Kaitlyn Asher made three saves in penalty shootouts Sunday to help the UCO Bronchos win the MIAA Tournament championship.

WARRENSBURG, Mo. — The University of Central Oklahoma soccer team is the 2019 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association champions. 

The Bronchos won their second consecutive league title after defeating Northeastern State in the championship match Sunday afternoon.

"I'm just so happy for this team," UCO head soccer coach Mike Cook said. "They've worked so hard and deserve this. And when we got down today, they didn't give up. They kept fighting and found a way."

UCO and NSU officially tied 1-1. The game needed two overtimes and penalty kicks before the Bronchos could be called champions.

In the penalty shootout, Taryn Kedzior, Monika McGee and Kelsie Eason all made their shots. Kaitlyn Asher then played hero. The junior goalkeeper made a save on the first NSU try, then blocked the third attempt too. After UCO missed its first attempt in the fourth round, Asher saved another shot and the Bronchos stormed their goalie before hoisting the trophy.

Sunday, Central needed a comeback. Neither team found the scoreboard in the first half. UCO did outshoot Northeastern 8-2 in the first half, but couldn't put away any chances. Northeastern picked it up in the second half, outshooting the Bronchos 6-3. That effort paid off eventually.

In the 73rd minute, NSU took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Mariah Nicolet inside the UCO 18-yard box. UCO was going to need a big effort in the final 20 minutes of the game. It got it.

Kelsey Gordon scored on a header off a free kick from Eason in the 86th minute to tie the match 1-1. An NSU foul just outside the box setup the play. Eason took her shot from a yard outside the box on the left side. Gordon found the ball in the air toward the back post and headed home the score to tie the match.

Both teams took one shot apiece in the first 10-minute overtime. UCO outshot NSU 2-0 in the second 10-minute OT period. Like the first half, neither team could get a solid chance to go in. That set up the penalty shootout.

UCO won its first MIAA championship in soccer last season. It now has claim to back-to-back titles. The Bronchos with the win will receive the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Selection Show is scheduled for 5 p.m. (CT) Monday.

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