Carroll Women's Soccer Falls to Spring Arbor in NAIA Tourney - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Carroll Women's Soccer Falls to Spring Arbor in NAIA Tourney

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Spring Arbor scored the first goal of their three just 40 seconds into the match, the Carroll offense mustered only seven shots and the fourth-ranked Cougars rolled to a 3-0 win over Fighting Saints women's in the first round of the NAIA National Tournament Saturday.
 
The match was held at the indoor Legacy Center Sports Complex, 60 miles from the Spring Arbor Campus because of heavy snowfall in the Midwest.
 
The Cougars made their sixth-consecutive NAIA Tournament appearance, it was the first since 2007 for the Saints and Spring Arbor took advantage early.
 
"Spring Arbor deserves a lot of credit," head coach David Thorvilson said. "They are very athletic, very well coached, and they have hosted a playoff game for the last six years. Our eyes were kind of big early on and by the time we got our feet under us we were down early."
 
The Saints had the opening kickoff but the Cougars possessed the ball and took a shot that carroll goalkeeper Jaimie Carter could corral. The rebound was sent in by Nikki Bonnema for the goal in the first minute.
 
In the 10th minute, Aubrey Schierbeek scored to put the Cougars up 2-0 and in the 20th minute, Bethany Balcer scored to push the lead to 3-0. Carroll held SAU scoreless for the rest of match but the damage was done and the Cougars earned 3-0 win.
 
"It was very emotional after the game. The realization that it is over is a little hard to deal with," Thorvilson said. "The players thanked the seniors and I think everyone realizes that they did a lot to get us here and we will look to build on this going forward."
 
Despite the disappointing loss to end it, the season was a successful one. The Saints earned the Cascade Conference regular season and conference title in the first year in the league.
 
"It will take some time to step back and take a look at what we did this season but every year our wish list includes winning the conference and earning a tournament bid," Thorvilson said. "In that aspect, this year was a tremendous success, we took advantage in every opportunity that presented itself to us and we dealt with a lot of adversary with injuries. To be one of the best 31 teams in the country is great. There are a lot of teams in that would trade shoes with us even though we lost."
 
The Saints will now look to replace a group of 10 seniors, many are starters, including captain Caitlin Walter. The Saints do return much of their dominant back line and two-time conference player of the year Carter.
 
The Saints will have major roles to fill in the front and midfield.
 
"The big strength of this team was our goalkeeper and our defense and we return a good portion of that," Thorvilson said. "The big question will be who will step up offensively to score some goals for us going forward."
 
The final game of the season ended in a loss but Thorvilson and his team are thankful for the opportunity to play a great team in a great environment.
 
"Spring Arbor is a quality program that does things right," Thorvilson said. "They were tremendous hosts and we are very appreciative of them. It wasn't a good matchup for us. They are a great team that was clicking but hopefully we can take this experience and learn from it going forward."

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