For the second time in Bruins history, the women’s intercollegiate soccer team won the NCCAA Division II National Championship as they defeated Maranatha Baptist College 1-0 in Kissimmee, Florida.
“God has been very good to our program,” Coach Carmichael said. “To Him we give the glory of any success that we have had.”
The road to the championship game wasn’t easy as the Bruins first took on Dallas Christian College in the quarterfinal. Dallas proved to be a very physical team, and neither team could find the net in the first half. The second half proved to be much different, as six different Bruins scored, giving BJU the commanding 6-0 victory. Dallas eventually finished in third place overall.
In the next day’s semifinal, BJU faced Kentucky Christian University, whom the Bruins had beaten 8-0 in the regular season. The Bruins once again dominated the Knights, pounding them 5-0. Sophomore Mimi Lozano recorded a hat trick, while Abby Davis and Tessie Estrella each tallied goals of their own, propelling the Lady Bruins into the National Championship.
Their opponent for the championship game was Maranatha Baptist University. MBU was the top seed in the tournament, going 13-3-2 in the regular season, but struggled more than BJU in the national tournament to get to the final, as they barely beat the fifth-seeded North Central University 1-0.
The Bruins controlled possession early, and even found a strong opportunity, but the Sabercats keeper, Hannah Anderson, saved Kaitlyn Hummel’s shot.
The Lady Bruins continued to create chances, and eventually it paid off. In the 16th minute, Mimi Lozano sent Abby Davis a through ball, and Davis beat the advancing Anderson to the ball to finish from a tough angle for the first goal of the game.
With the lead, the Lady Bruins now had to hold the Sabercats’ offense at bay for 74 minutes to secure the title. BJU’s offense possessed the ball for long periods of time, preventing the Sabercats from creating any goal-scoring opportunities. For the rest of the half, the Bruins’ stingy defense held firm, stopping Maranatha from capitalizing.
In the second half, the MBU forwards worked hard to create opportunities, but Kristen Haertlein, the Bruins’ goalkeeper, made several solid saves to keep the Sabercats off the board.
Again in the second half, the Lady Bruins sustained much of the possession. MBU grew increasingly desperate but ran out of time as the referee blew his whistle to end the game. The Lady Bruins stormed the field, celebrating their second national championship win in three years.
The championship did not come easily, as the Bruins actually had a 3-8 record after a rough stretch early in the season. And no one understood how much adversity the team fought through as much as their coach. “This was a team effort through Regionals and Nationals,” Carmichael said. “It was a culmination of many hours of hard work and keeping the unity and team vision to get through some challenging times this season.”
Carmichael was also very grateful for the senior leadership he had on the roster this year.
“A special congratulations to our senior strength in Jenn Wise, Spencer Martin and Tessie Estrella,” Carmichael said. “In my book all three are All-American players and there isn’t another player I would rather have than these three. They are going to be missed in a big way, and this is a great send off to three special players. We are honored to have won this National Championship.”
The Bruins also earned several individual accolades, as Mimi Lozano was honored as the tournament’s most valuable player, and Jenn Wise, Kristen Haertlein and Tessie Estrella were each named to the all-tournament team.
The season could not have finished any better for the three seniors or the rest of the team, but it won’t be long until Coach Carmichael and the returning players turn their eyes to next year, eyeing a hat trick championship run.