"This is big for our whole school and our conference," HSU head coach Marcus Wood said of the 2-1 win over Messiah College in the championship match at San Antonio's Blossom Athletic Complex.
"Our girls came out and I thought took it to them early in the game," Wood said of the title game Dec. 4. "We got the two goals, and then even after that I thought we held our composure and were able to do a lot of good things in the game. Messiah is a great team. We definitely earned the win tonight."
The Cowgirls took the momentum and control of the game early. Senior Carlyn Powers gave HSU a 1-0 lead just 2:12 into the game. Minutes later, Erin Low deflected a corner kick from Katie Kuykendall into the goal for a 2-0 lead.
"Erin Low played the best game of her life," Wood said. "I have coached Erin since she was 11 years old as a club player. I have never seen her play better."
Low was named the offensive MVP of the tournament. Her teammate Rebecca Roth was named the defensive MVP. Roth was huge as the Cowgirls held off Messiah for the final 85 minutes. The HSU goalkeeper finished the night with six saves, including four in the second half.
"As a goalkeeper you live to have the ball hit at you," Roth said. "I am so proud of my teammates, and we are so excited to be national champions. Our whole team just beat a very good soccer team. We made the plays we had to over and over."
Messiah came in as the two-time defending NCAA Division III champion. The Falcons had not lost since the 2007 final against Wheaton. They finished the year with a record of 24-1. Messiah, a Christian college, is located in Grantham, Pa.
Hardin-Simmons finished the season with a 24-0-1 record. The one tie was in the semifinals, and HSU advanced on penalty kicks.
The NCAA title was the first for Hardin-Simmons as a member of Division III. The university joined Division III in the 1996-97 school year.
HSU is a Baptist-affiliated college in Abilene, Texas.
Reported by the sports information staff at Hardin-Simmons University.
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