Playing in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championships for the first time in the program's history, the seventh-ranked Emory University Eagles were unable to upset second-ranked Hardin Simmons University, losing 2-1 to the Cowgirls.
Emory's downfall came during a two-minute and 38 second stretch in the first half, starting with Miranda Bersosa's ninth goal of the season at the 10:52 mark. Bersosa scored off a pair of passes from Katie Kuykendall and Amy Kuykendall, giving the former her Division III-best 24th assist of the campaign, and the latter her ninth.
Hardin-Simmons would expand their lead to 2-0 at the 13:30 mark, as Amy Kuykendall converted a penalty kick for her 29th goal of the campaign.
Facing the best offense in the nation, sophomore goalkeeper Erica Stein would make a season-high five saves in the first half, before giving way to sophomore Kaele Leonard for the start of the second frame.
Despite facing a 2-0 deficit at the half on the home field of one of the top teams in Divison III this season, the Eagles would come out firing again in the second half for the second-consecutive game, and finally broke through in the 65th minute. After a corner kick into the box from junior Lidija Barauskas, Emory freshman Kelly Costopoulos collected the ball and fired it past the Cowgirls' keeper for her team-leading eighth goal of the season. It was also her third goal of the tournament, the highest total over a career in Emory history. Barauskas picked up her second assist of the season and the NCAA Tournament, also a program record for Emory. It was just the fifth goal of the season allowed by Hardin-Simmons.
Emory would control most of the second half, outshooting the Cowgirls by a 11-4 margin, after being outshot 12-4 in the first half. However, the Eagles would not be able to get the equalizer against Hardin-Simmons.
Leonard finished with four saves of her own during the second half, as the sophomore did not allow a goal during her 213 minutes and 36 seconds in goal during the Eagles' tournament run.
Emory senior Melanie Levy, playing in her last collegiate game, set a new program record with her 81st career contest played, surpassing the previous high set by Whitney West (1995-98). She also moved into a tie for second place all time in the program's history with her 76th career start.
Also appearing in their last collegiate game were seniors Lauren Smith, who kicked the game-clinching penalty kick in yesterday's advancing match against Wheaton College (Ill.) Sara Belsole, who scored the game-tying goal in the match, and Meghan McMahon, who hit a penalty kick yesterday as well. Although they did not appear in the game, seniors Alyssa Perez and Emily Rubin also saw their Emory careers come to a close on Saturday.
Emory finished its season with a record of 16-2-4 record, marking just the sixth time in school history that the Eagles have finished a campaign with two losses or less. Hardin-Simmons, now 23-0-0 this season, will advance to the Final Four of the NCAA Championships in San Antonio, TX, starting Friday, December 3rd.