Women's Soccer: Ruiz lifts Lions

Her decisive penalty kick helps Vanguard advance to second round of NAIA championship in Alabama.

November 23, 2013|By Barry Faulkner

Though Liliana Ruiz had some trouble remembering the precise mechanics of her game-winning penalty kick Saturday, at least the Vanguard University sophomore didn't forget to breathe in the first round of the NAIA women's soccer championship against visiting Columbia College.

Ruiz, who said she has a hard time with relaxation in pressure situations, calmed herself enough to bury her penalty kick, the sixth attempt of the post-match shootout for the Lions, to propel the hosts to the second round of the tournament that runs Dec. 2-7 in Orange Beach, Ala.

The No. 6-seeded Lions (15-4-1) will face Robert Morris of Illinois (14-4-1) in the second round on Dec. 2. Robert Morris knocked off Spring Harbor of Michigan, which eliminated Vanguard in the quarterfinals of last year's NAIA tournament in penalty kicks.


Ruiz capped off a 4-3 PK advantage for Vanguard, which scored in the 20th minute of regulation, but surrendered the equalizer in the 71st minute. The two teams did not score in two 10-minute sudden-death overtime periods, forcing the PK shootout, which begins with five penalty kicks each. After the first five, the two teams were deadlocked, 3-3, prompting subsequent rounds until a winner was decided.

Vanguard went first throughout the shootout. After Ruiz converted, Columbia senior Perla Hernandez booted her attempt high over the crossbar to end the contest, which goes down as a tie.

"I taught Lili that shot [Friday]," Vanguard Coach Randy Dodge said. "I didn't like her PKs. I think she's composed enough to be able to hit them, so I had to teach her a way that I thought would be successful for her. In fact, when she was hitting it, I was hoping she didn't step back too far [from the ball], because it's a really tight PK. It's just one step back and it looked like she took two. But she hit it well. The keeper didn't even move. [The keeper] didn't have a chance."

Jen Martin and Asia Kleinmeyer converted the Lions' first two PKs, but Columbia (16-2-2), the highest-scoring team in the nation (106 goals), matched them.

After Columbia keeper Erica Ramirez stopped Megan Hill's attempt, Vanguard junior Lauren Terry, an All-American goalkeeper as a sophomore, dived to her right to bat a low attempt outside the post for a save.

Ramirez posted another save on two-time Golden State Athletic Conference Player of the Year Jordan Davidson, an All-American forward as a junior. But Columbia's subsequent attempt caromed off the right goal post for a miss.

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