Photo courtesy of Ryan Coleman, D3 Photography
WAVERLY, IOWA (11/11/12)—Sarah Rounds proved why she is an All-American and the back-to-back MIAC Player of the Year as she scored three goals in helping Concordia beat California Lutheran 3-2 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Cobbers now advance to the Sweet 16 of the national playoffs for the second straight year and the third time in the past four seasons. CC is now 17-3-2 on the year which puts them within one victory of the school's all-time win total.
"I felt like luck was going my way this game," remarked Rounds.
Luck was definitely wearing No.12 for Concordia. Rounds scored just 35-seconds into the game to stake the Cobbers to a 1-0 lead and make the Regals chase the game for over 89 minutes.
Concordia kept up the attack in the first 20 minutes of play and had a pair of breakaway attempts just miss. Cal Lutheran tied the game at the 14:45 mark when SCIAC Player of the Year Taylor Will turned in the penalty area and fired a shot into the lower left corner.
Rounds then hammered home her second goal of the game when she once again found room at the top of the penalty area and put the ball in the top half of the net. The goal at 21:55 would give CC a 2-1 lead and force Cal Lu to play catch up for the second time in the game. For Rounds it was her 12th goal of the season.
The Cobbers would go into the halftime break up 2-1 and had a 7-5 advantage in shots. "I was very pleased with the way we played in the first half," said Concordia head coach Dan Weiler. "We wanted to get the ball wide and we got some great chances from those situations."
The game turned at the start of the second half when the Regals pushed hard in attack and tried to force the game with extra pressure in the attacking third of the field. Concordia survived several near misses before Rounds completer her hat trick.
"I was feeling on Cloud 9 after scoring the first two goals," said Rounds. "So when I got the ball for the third goal and it was just me and the defender, and she wasn't putting much pressure on me, so I had time to just line it up and pass it into the corner."
Rounds' "pass into the corner" gave her 13 goals for the year and 38 total points. That is a career-high point total and gave her 136 career points which is one shy of the Concordia all-time school record of 137.
Staked to a 3-1 lead with 29 minutes to play, Concordia gradually kept putting more emphasis on defense and was satisfied content to just keep numbers behind the ball.
It looked as if the Cobbers would escape with a two-goal win but then Cal Lutheran was awarded a penalty kick in the 87th minute. Will converted the spot kick for her 18th goal of the year. The final three minutes were played at a frantic pace as CC tried to hold the lead and the Regals pushed more numbers into attack.
CC was able to hold off the late push and walked away with the 3-2 win.
"The last few minutes were a little hectic," said Weiler. "We didn't handle the change of tactics very well and allowed Cal Lutheran to get at our net."
The Regals outshot Concordia 12-10 in total shots while both teams had seven shots on goal. Ali Nelson made five stops for CC and Cal Lutheran goalie Kristin Bailey made four saves on the day.
Concordia will now play at Washington Univ. in St. Louis, Mo. on Friday, Nov. 16. The time has yet to be determined.