An excellent UWM women’s soccer season ended in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, as the Panthers lost 4-1 at third-seeded Santa Clara Saturday afternoon. But in a game that was tied 1-1 into the 69th minute, the final score disguises how the Panthers gave a scare to one of the country’s best teams.
Perennial NCAA power Santa Clara entered the game ranked seventh in the United Soccer Coaches poll, and Maria Sanchez gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead with her 17th-minute goal. But UWM held its nerve, buoyed by a couple of remarkable saves from freshman goalkeeper Elaina LaMacchia, who finished the game with six stops. Then, the Panthers tied the game at 1-all just past the hour mark.
Freshman Jelena Sever scored UWM’s equalizer, blasting a 25-yard laser off the right post and into the net. Just like that, in the 62nd minute, UWM was in position to pull off a major upset.
The Broncos staved it off, thanks in large part to two quickfire goals less than 10 minutes later. Kalie Halvorsen regained the lead for Santa Clara in the 69th minute, then Sanchez got her second goal of the game in the 71st minute. Natalie Kennedy ended hopes of a Panthers comeback with Santa Clara’s fourth goal five minutes from the final whistle.
UWM, playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013 after winning the Horizon League Championship, finishes the season 16-2-1.