The Central Missouri women and Charleston (W. Va.) men were crowned NCAA Division II national champions for the first time on Saturday at sunny Swope Soccer Village.
Children’s Mercy Victory Field hosted the men’s and women’s NCAA Division II soccer championships for the second consecutive year, providing the stage on which the Central Missouri Jennies completed a perfect 26-0-0 season and the Charleston Eagles finally reached the pinnacle after finishing runners-up in 2014 and 2016.
The first match of Saturday’s doubleheader saw Central Missouri fall behind in the 19th minute when fellow unbeaten Carson-Newman (Tenn.) took the lead through Lauren Wade. The Jennies, who had entered the game with a remarkable 21 shutout victories, were on the ropes for 70 more minutes, but All-American forward Jada Scott was fouled inside the box with 30 seconds left in regulation and promptly buried her penalty kick to force extra time.
Two 10-minute periods of overtime failed to produce a golden goal, forcing the women’s final into a decisive penalty kick shootout. Both teams converted their first three attempts before Haley Freeman bagged her spot kick to give Central Missouri a 4-3 advantage. Jennies goalkeeper Ana Dilkes — the all-time Division II leader with 64 career shutouts — produced a vital save in the bottom of the fourth round, allowing Abby Rhodes to slot home the match-winning penalty and give Central Missouri a 5-3 triumph.
National! Champions! The top-ranked Jennies finish the season undefeated as they defeat No. 2 Carson-Newman 5-3 in a shootout after playing a 1-1 game. Jens finish the season 26-0! The Perfect Season. #teamUCM pic.twitter.com/vRe5LKWaIZ— Jennies Soccer (@UCM_Soccer) December 2, 2017
Central Missouri’s 26 wins set a new single-season NCAA Division II record on the women’s side. Led by 11th-year head coach Lewis Theobold, the Jennies become just the third women’s Division II national champion to finish a season with a perfect record, joining Pfeiffer (2015), Southern Connecticut State (1999) and Lock Haven (1980).
The men's nightcap involved scoring chances from both Charleston and Lynn (N.Y.), but neither side could find the finishing touch through 110 minutes of regulation. Charleston goalkeeper Paulo Pita, who made two saves over the course of the afternoon, was heroic in the shootout, saving penalties in the first and third rounds to deliver the Eagles an elusive national title. Lynn, the alma mater of Sporting KC goalkeeper Tim Melia, fell just short in its pursuit of a fourth national championship after winning the tournament in 2003, 2012 and 2014.