SPU women stunned in NCAA semis

It was a rude end to what had been a perfect season for the No. 2-ranked Seattle Pacific University women's soccer team. The Lady Falcons, unbeaten and untied in the regular season, fell 0-2 to New Hampshire's Franklin Pierce University in the NCAA Division II semis, at Orange Beach, Ala.

A furious attack by SPU in the first few minutes went for naught, as Franklin Pierce goalkeeper Brittany Ester's brilliant save deflected Shannon Oakes' 15-yard strike and stopped an early SPU goal. Seattle Pacific relentless pressure seemed poised to pay off in the 72nd minute, when Jocelyn Charette's shot beat Ester but caromed off the crossbar.

SPU hammered away throughout, but to no avail. The brilliant Falcon side outshot the Franklin Pierce Ravens 18-7 overall. But Ravens keeper Ester was unyielding, making 8 saves overall.

Jesslyn Rahm had 4 saves for the Falcons, while two Ravens shots found the back of SPU's net. Rahm let in her first goal of the NCAA tournament - which proved to be the winning goal - when Pierce's Taryn Welker took a feed in the 21st minute and knocked home her only goal of the season.

SPU was the favorite going in, outranking No. 16-ranked Pierce. But the New Hampshire school, named for the 14th, and only New Hampshire-born, president of the U.S., has a rich soccer history, having been to the Final Four 14 times. SPU has had a women's soccer program only since 2001 and has been to the Final Four in two of the last three years

It was the final game for Falcon seniors Sarah Martinez, Kara Hamby, Jessica Gerstmann and Jeanne Webster, all of them outstanding players. They will be missed.

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