WINCHESTER, Va. - For the past two weeks, the Shenandoah University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is taking a look back at its top moments of 2011-12. Today, we conclude this series with our No. 1 highlight - Women's Soccer Wins a Championship.
Heading into the 2011 season, women's soccer coach Liz Pike had a right to believe her team was championship contender. Her starting goalkeeper, Kat Terza, was entering her fourth season as the team's starter and was recognized as one of the top keepers in the region.
With these stalwarts returning, the Hornets looked primed for a run at their first-ever USA South championship and berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Unfortunately, a difficult schedule was staring the team in the face.
Starting with the season opener against perennial regional power Mary Washington, SU had its work cut out for itself to start the campaign.
These victories also earned the team its first regional ranking since the mid-1990s.
As the calendar flipped from September to October, the squad really began to heat up.
Pike's club won eight of 10 games in the second month of the season including shutout victories over Meredith, Ferrum and Averett as well as blowout triumphs versus Peace, 12-0, and Mary Baldwin, 9-0.
The last win, over Mary Baldwin, gave the team its program-record 13th win of the year.
The Hornets went into their final USA South Tournament as the No. 2 seed, its highest seeding of the Pike era.
On a cold Tuesday night on the Sprint Field at Shentel Stadium turf, Shenandoah advanced into the conference semi-finals for the first time in six years with a 3-1 victory over Meredith.
The win over the Avenging Angels sent SU to Martinsville, Virginia for the conference semi-finals. Shenandoah would face third-seeded Averett in the semi-finals with the winner likely taking on top-seeded Christopher Newport in the championship.
The SU/Averett game was one for the ages, as the two teams battled for 110 minutes without identifying a victor. Shenandoah had struck first, on a Brittany Butcher goal, before USA South Conference Player of the Year Pernilla Milton answered for the Cougars.
With neither team being able to find the back of the net in the 20-minute overtime, a shootout ensued to determine which team would advance.
SU had the opening shot of the shootout, getting a Sarah Hensley conversion for an early lead.
Averett answered in its half of the first round, sending Womack to the spot to open the second round.
Womack buried her shot and now it was Terza's chance to shine.
In PKs, all a team needs is one save to come out on top.
Terza made two.
The eventual USA South Tournament MVP stoned both Milton and Annika Rindestedt on consecutive attempts, to put the Hornets up 3-1.
After a Shenandoah miss and an Averett conversion, all that stood between the Hornets and a championship appearance was Kline's attempt.
Kline buried her shot, sending the SU sideline into bedlam and giving the squad a championship date with Christopher Newport.
That game took just the regulation 90 minutes as Womack tallied the only goal of the contest in the 70th minute.
The win, the team's 15th of the year and the 50th career victory for Pike, gave the squad a victory in its final USA South Conference contest and meant it would make its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
The team set program records for overall and league victories and ended the year regionally ranked for just the second time in school history.