CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Sarah Gorham fired a late equalizer in the 83rd minute for WKU, but the Lady Toppers fell in penalty kicks, 4-1, to Charlotte at Transamerica Field on Wednesday evening after playing to a 1-1 draw after 110 minutes.
WKU (12-6-1) finishes its season with its most victories in a single campaign since 2012 and its highest seeding in a conference tournament since joining C-USA prior to the 2014 season. Charlotte (9-8-2) advances to Friday’s semifinals and will face UTEP for a spot in Sunday afternoon’s championship match.
Iris Dunn led the Lady Toppers with five shots on Wednesday evening, two of which hit the post and the crossbar in the waning minutes of regulation. Gorham and Chandler Backes each fired a pair of shots for WKU as well. Dunn and Hannah Chua picked up the assists on Gorham’s match-tying goal.
The 49ers’ Megan Greene led all players with six shots, three of which were on target, while Rebecca Beatty finished with four and both Martha Thomas and Katie O’Neill had three. Thomas, the C-USA Offensive Player of the Year, netted the early goal for Charlotte with an assist from Greene.
In goal, Allison Leone played the full 110 minutes and made eight stops, three of which came during the 20 minutes of overtime. Anna Shelden earned the decision for Charlotte, also playing the full 110 minutes with a pair of saves.
Charlotte jumped ahead at the 22:23 mark on Thomas’ 10th goal of the season. Greene played the ball forward as Leone came off her line to attempt to collect the ball, but Thomas was able to chip the ball high over Leone for the go-ahead score.
After battling hard for much of the second half and having several close chances, WKU finally broke through with 82:39 on the clock off the foot of Gorham. Megan Morris sent a pass up to Dunn, who slotted in a low pass to Gorham on the left side of the box. The redshirt sophomore found just enough space to fire on goal and found the back of the net low to the far post to knot the match at 1-1 and send it to overtime.
In the first overtime, neither side had a strong offensive chance, with the lone shot coming from Greene in the 97th minute. Leone corralled the attempt as the two sides closed the opening 10 minutes of extra time still tied at 1-1.
The second frame of overtime ended with a scramble inside WKU’s box after a late Charlotte corner kick, but the Lady Topper defense was able to hold the 49ers without a shot on the attack to force the match into decisive penalty kicks.
Charlotte connected on all four of its penalty kick opportunities and Abby Coffey, who relieved Shelden in goal, held WKU to just one successful attempt from Olivia Fitzgerald.
The 2016 WKU Soccer season is being presented by the United States Marines. This season, the Marines and WKU Athletics are working together to promote the outstanding athletic and academic achievements of our female student-athletes. The Marines are proud to work with and support these future leaders of America.
For more information on WKU Soccer, visit WKUSports.com or follow the team via social media @WKU_Soccer on Twitter and Instagram and on Facebook at facebook.com/WKUAthletics.