Seattle Pacific found itself in an unfamiliar spot Thursday night in the NCAA Division II semifinals at the Midwestern State Soccer Field...

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WICHITA FALLS, Texas — Seattle Pacific found itself in an unfamiliar spot Thursday night in the NCAA Division II semifinals at the Midwestern State Soccer Field.

The Falcons — allowing Carson-Newman two goals and facing 1-0 and 2-1 deficits before intermission — finally took advantage of an intentional hand ball in the box to score a 3-2 win and earn a berth in Saturday’s 11 a.m. national-championship game.

The Falcons (20-0-4) will try to cap off their unbeaten season with a victory over Nebraska-Omaha in the Division II final.

“We’re not used to being down a goal, but it was a real good game for us,” Seattle Pacific coach Chuck Sekyra said. “We showed a lot of character. I’m very proud of my team.”

The hand-ball call — on Carson-Newman defender Stacey Thomas’ reaction to Carolyn Nason’s header on a corner kick with 31:40 remaining — proved to be decisive.

“My player reacted in a split-second. There’s no question she handled the ball and cleared it off the line,” Carson-Newman coach Phillip McNamara said.

“I headed the ball, and she just stuck her hand up,” Nason said. “I was kind of bummed.”


Seattle Pacific vs. Nebraska-Omaha in Wichita Falls, Texas; NCAA Division II women’s soccer championship, 11 a.m.

Shannon Lovejoy beat Carson-Newman keeper Nyssa Griffin to the lower left corner for a 2-2 tie on the ensuing penalty kick.

“It seemed a little farther than usual, it kind of freaked me out a little bit,” Lovejoy said. “I tried to stay cool and do the same thing I’ve done.”

Nason didn’t stay bummed for long. The junior defender got a second chance on another corner in the 71st minute. Nason’s game-winning header gave the Falcons their first lead of the game.

The two goals offset a pair of goals from Carson-Newman’s forward tandem of Jennifer Bock and Rebecca Angus.

“We all came out strong,” Bock said. “I thought we [Angus and Bock] were playing well together up top.”

After SPU’s Meredith Teague knotted the game at 1-1 with a 20-yard blast from the left wing, Angus and Bock were at it again.

Bock found Angus in the middle of the Seattle Pacific zone. Bock made a combination of moves before blasting a shot to the upper left net to give Carson-Newman a 2-1 edge going into intermission.

“I thought, at times, we were a little disrupted in the back. I don’t think we’ve seen a team attack our back line like that,” Sekyra said.

Seattle Pacific’s starting goalkeeper, Jennifer Burns, suffered an injury after hitting her head on the post on Angus’ goal, but Sekyra said the freshman has been cleared to play in Saturday’s championship game.

Katie Ruggles earned the win in relief of Burns.

“I was very proud of our backup keeper coming in making some saves like that,” Sekyra said. “She looked like a veteran back there.”

Seattle Pacific 3, Carson-Newman 2 (Scoring — 1, CN, Bock (Angus) 13:53; 2, SPU, M. Teague (Oakes) 28:31; 3, CN, Angus (un) 43:47; 4, SPU, Lovejoy (pk) 58:20; 5, SPU, Nason (M. Teague) 70:29. Shots — CN 19, SPU 28. Saves — CN (Griffin) 13, SPU (Burns 5, Ruggles 1, team 1) 7. Corner kicks — CN 10, SPU 5. Fouls — CN 14, SPU 11. Offside — CN 1, SPU 2. Cautions — Farquhar, CN, 60:07. Ejections — Thomas, CN, 58:20. A — 436.)