Golden Eagles Shine in Finale; Seniors Honored
TULSA, Okla.-The Golden Eagles (7-10-2, 4-4-1 Summit League) finished the 2011 season in dramatic fashion on Saturday night, defeating South Dakota (1-14-3, 1-6-1) in a 5-3 shootout on senior night at the Case Soccer Complex.
Seniors Amanda Wheeler, Anna Van Valin and Maria Grados were honored before the game at midfield for their contributions to the program, but it was Sophomore Mary-Kate Halsmer who stole the show, scoring her first two goals of the season, including the game winner. Grados and junior Whitney Booth also scored goals for the Golden Eagles. Wheeler played nearly the entire game and collected five saves before being replaced by Helen Erb in the 90th minute. She left to a standing ovation, as did the other seniors.
Despite the victory, the Golden Eagles failed to qualify for postseason play and finished fifth in the conference.
Grados got the first half started with her ninth goal of the season in the 9th minute, and unassisted dribble through the box that gave the Golden Eagles a 1-0 lead. Junior Midfielder Aaron Bello answered back for South Dakota, tying the game 1-1 in the 12th minute. Jennifer Abernathy, last year's Freshman of the Year in the Summit League, scored her second goal of the season in the 27th minute to give ORU a 2-1 advantage to end the half.
In the second Half Bello answered right back, scoring her second and third goals of the night in the 54rd and 58th minutes to complete the hat trick and give South Dakota a 3-2 advantage.
Halsmer, who led the team in scoring last season but struggled in 2011 to find the net, picked a good time to score her first goal of the year as she put home the equalizer in the 65th minute after dodging the diving keeper, leaving her with the empty net. Halsmer then scored the game winner in the 70th minute off the assist by Booth. The night ended with Booth putting on the final touches with a goal in the 76th minute to give the Golden Eagles the 5-3 victory.
The Golden Eagles outshot South Dakota 22-20.
Wheeler, a three time letterwinner, picked up her first victory of the season in her final game at ORU. She leaves the school ranked first all-time in school history and second all-time in Conference history with 271 saves; and first in school history and third in Conference history for minutes played. Wheeler is also fourth all-time in conference history with 22 career wins, and tenth all-time in conference history with 10 Shutouts. She appeared in 62 career matches and was named Summit League Defensive Player of the Week three times.
Grados and Van Valin Also had great careers at ORU.
Grados, also a three time letterwinner, scored 47 career points with 18 goals, 11 assists, and posted six game-winning goals while appearing in 65 career matches. She Ranks in the school's top-10 all-time for career goals and game-winning goals. She was the 2011 team co-captain and was named Summit League Player of the Week one time.
Van Valin, a three time letterwinner, appeared in 63 career matches and was the 2011 co-captain. She scored 15 career points off five goals and five assists and was the anchor for the defensive for four years.