BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Senior goalkeeper Dayle Colpitts recorded eight saves in the run of play and then stopped three of four shots in a penalty shootout on Sunday afternoon to lift the Virginia Tech women's soccer team past the Santa Clara Broncos, 3-1 on penalty kicks, and into the NCAA Quarterfinals.
“I think the game could’ve gone either way, it was a difficult match for us for sure,” Head Coach Chugger Adair said. “Santa Clara showed that they have a lot of quality throughout the match. I think Dayle showed her quality and kept us in the game with a number of big saves. The girls kept battling and kept us in the game.”
Santa Clara entered the match with the nation’s second most proficient offense, while the Hokies hadn’t allowed a goal in their first two NCAA Tournament matches.
The first half was very much a back-and-forth affair, as both sides pressed forward often.
Though the first half did not yield a goal, both teams saw chances. Tech fired a pair of shots, both forcing saves out of Santa Clara goalkeeper Andi Tostanoski, while the Broncos took six attempts, but only put a pair of them on goal.
After the break, the sides began producing a higher number of polished chances. Santa Clara began finding holes on long, low passes through the Hokie defense, while Tech depended on working up the field with quick passes, eventually leading to the first goal of the match.
Freshman Murielle Tiernan opened the scoring for the Hokies in the 55th minute, when she collected a deflection, turned and buried a 20-yard shot from the left side into the top-right corner of the net.
Santa Clara equalized just nine minutes later, as Sofia Huerta scored an eerily similar goal. Huerta collected the ball on the right side, just outside the box and fired her shot just inside the left post to make it 1-1 in the 64th minute.
In the overtime periods, the Hokie defense repelled multiple Santa Clara attacks, many of which were snuffed out by a charging Colpitts or at the last second by a Hokie defender.
Santa Clara almost put matters to rest in the opening moments of the first overtime, as Sofia Huerta had a breakaway attempt parried by Colpitts, before pushing a six-yard shot over crossbar on a mostly-empty net.
The Broncos totaled five shots in the 20 minutes of overtime, forcing Colpitts to make four saves to maintain the 1-1 tie and force the shootout.
In the penalty shootout, junior Katie Yensen and freshman Candace Cephers scored for Tech on the first and third attempts, while Colpitts turned away two of Santa Clara's first three shots. After the senior goalkeeper pushed aside the Broncos' fourth attempt, Tiernan again stepped up, slamming the ball into the top of the net to give the Hokies the win.
“I’m extremely happy; the girls worked hard and put so much effort into this season,” Adair said. “For them to get the result today is very exciting.”
Sophomore Ashley Meier led the Hokies’ offense on the day, putting all three of her shots on goal, while Tiernan added a pair of SOG as well.
Colpitts was the star on the day as the senior racked up eight saves, many of which came on Santa Clara breakaways, before dominating the penalty shootout to help Tech to the win.
Tech is now 18-4-3 on the season, while Santa Clara wraps up its year with a 16-4-2 record.
The Hokies will be back in action on Friday, November 29, when they host Atlantic Coast Conference rival Duke in the NCAA Quarterfinals with a College Cup berth on the line. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech women's soccer, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_WSoccer).