Nelson shoots one

Randolph-Macon forward Gabby Nelson (24) takes a shot on goal during the 2019 ODAC women’s soccer semifinals against visiting Bridgewater on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. The Yellow Jackets won 1-0 in overtime.

ASHLAND – Randolph-Macon, the No. 1 seed in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference women’s soccer tournament, knew the competition would be stiff once the clock started winding down on the remaining teams’ seasons.

It was. The Yellow Jackets twice went into overtime – first against Bridgewater in the ODAC semifinal, then again against Virginia Wesleyan in the championship – and prevailed both times to claim the conference title and earn the ODAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.

Both the semifinal and final were scoreless at the end of regulation. In the first overtime of the semifinal, Randolph-Macon’s Bonita Soliday took a pass from midfielder Maddie Bauman inside the box and sent it into the net at 1:31 into overtime for a 1-0 victory.

“Every time we play Bridgewater, it’s always a one-goal game,” said Randolph-Macon head coach Jay Howell. “It’s always a battle. ... I figured it would come down to something like this.”

In the final, the Marlin defense held the Yellow Jackets to just one shot in the first half. By the end of regulation, Virginia Wesleyan still had the edge in shots 14-9. In overtime, Randolph-Macon closed the gap, with the Marlins ahead by one shot, 15-14. Nevertheless, neither team could score in either overtime. The game was officially recorded as a tie and the question of the championship settled by penalty kicks.

Randolph-Macon won the toss and went first, but both teams converted on both of their first three PKs. But Yellow Jacket goalkeeper Edye Carr stopped a shot by Sarah Heinbaugh. When Bauman scored on Randolph-Macon’s fifth kick, the celebration started.

Soliday, Casey Kent, Jules Heuchan and McKenna Maier also scored for the Yellow Jackets in the shootout.

In the semifinal, Randolph-Macon had a number of early opportunities, but was unable to capitalize. It led Bridgewater in total shots, 20-9; shots-on-goal, 9-4; and corner kicks, 5-1. Still, the Yellow Jackets could not come away with a score in regulation.

“We had to bring the ball down more and be more confident with the ball,” Howell said.

Sophomore forward Nicole Czyzewski led Randolph Macon in shots on goal with 3 on just four shots. Senior Forward Gabby Nelson and Sophomore forward Tyria Smalls took four shots apiece in the game.

“I don’t think that we played very well today,” Howell said. “We did little patches of good soccer and we scored the goal by really nice soccer and so that’s really what we talked about [before overtime].”

Senior goalkeeper Christina Newman and Carr, a sophomore, combined for the Yellow Jackets’ 15th and 16th shutouts this season.

With the semifinal win, the Yellow Jackets extended the program record for most consecutive wins in a single season to 20.

Randolph-Macon heads to Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, for the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament. The Yellow Jackets will face Haverford College Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Messiah’s Shoemaker Field.

“We’ve got to just take it one game at a time,” Howell said.

Rodney Robinson can be reached at sports@mechlocal.com.

Dave Lawrence can be reached at dlawrence@mechlocal.com.

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