Golden Eagles fall in Round of 16

Photo courtesy of Bobby McDuffie
John Brown senior Lauren Walter (middle) battles Aquinas (Mich.) Ariana Garcia for the ball during the NAIA National Round of 16 on Monday. Aquinas defeated JBU 2-1 in Foley, Ala., to end the Golden Eagles' season.
Photo courtesy of Bobby McDuffie John Brown senior Lauren Walter (middle) battles Aquinas (Mich.) Ariana Garcia for the ball during the NAIA National Round of 16 on Monday. Aquinas defeated JBU 2-1 in Foley, Ala., to end the Golden Eagles' season.

FOLEY, Ala. -- Despite a goal from freshman Julia Lambert midway through the second half to pull the Golden Eagles to within one, the No. 8 John Brown University women's soccer team couldn't produce any more offense in an attempt to level the score as No. 9 Aquinas pulled off the 2-1 upset on Monday (Nov. 27) afternoon at the Foley Sports Tourism Championship Stadium in the NAIA National Championships Round of 16.

The Saints (17-0-4) broke the stalemate in the 12th minute and then never trailed after Aquinas took advantage of three consecutive missed 50/50 balls off drop-kicks from Kayla Shuk in goal. The third bounce was beautifully flicked through the Golden Eagle back line by Brittney Probst and led Sydney Shenk on a breakaway. Coming out of goal to challenge the play, senior Emily Dobbins was left on a island as Shenk ripped a low shot from the top of the box to give AQ a 1-0 advantage.

John Brown (18-3-1) pressed early and often and carried the lion's share of possession in the first half, out-shooting Aquinas by a 6-3 margin. Lambert's header off a corner service was the strongest Golden Eagle chance in the first half until her service from the far left corner flag nearly ended in Olimpico, but deflected off the top off the crossbar and out of play just before the half.

Then in the 52nd minute, the Saints again took advantage of a Golden Eagle defensive breakdown, but was the beneficiary of a botched play in the process. Off a throw-in from the left sidelines, two Saints pulled all four John Brown defenders into a small area before a ball through to Shenk was misplayed a rolled over her foot on the attempted shot. Fortunately for Aquinas, Macy Hollingsworth was directly behind her in a supportive role, and was wide open in front of Dobbins, one-touching a shot to the bottom left corner of goal to balloon the margin to two.

Five minutes later, John Brown showed signs of life. Senior Ryan Winningham played senior Gifte Pavatt toward the right corner flag, allowing Pavat to insert a dangerous cross. The Saints defense briefly headed the service away, but right to senior Rachael Stone, who played a one-touch pass across the top of the 18, setting up Lambert for a 19-yard, one-touch rip to the top right corner of goal, drawing the Golden Eagles within one.

Unfortunately with 33 minutes still remaining in the match, John Brown was unable to attempt another shot on goal, as Aquinas out-shot JBU by a 9-2 margin in the second half.

With Lambert's goal, she joins a very short list of two Golden Eagles in program history to score at the final site (Nikki Ganter, 2005).

Dobbins played tremendously in goal, recording five saves despite conceding a season-high two goals, to finish her career 11-1-1 between the sticks. Shuk also made five saves in the Aquinas win.

The Saints out-shot John Brown by a 12-8 margin through 90 minutes, including a narrow 7-6 edge in attempts on goal.

With the loss, the Golden Eagles fall to 5-8-2 all time in 10 appearances in the National Championships, while AQ improves to 9-5-0.

  photo  Photo courtesy of Bobby McDuffie Julia Lambert jumps into the arms of a teammate and other Golden Ealges celebrate after she scored a goal for JBU on Monday against Aquinas (Mich.) in the NAIA Round of 16 in Foley, Ala.