Wartburg controlled play during the second half of its Iowa Conference women’s soccer semifinal at top-seeded Dubuque on Wednesday night. It got an equalizer in the 68th minute.
The same players that were smiling and hugging had shocked faces two minutes later as the Spartans took the lead back on one of their few chances of the final period.
The fourth-seeded Knights’ season ended with a 2-1 loss to Dubuque, which advanced to the IIAC tournament championship for the third year in a row.
“We came to battle in the second half and did some things that were really good, so it is disappointing,” Wartburg (10-6-4) head coach Tiffany Pins said.
Dubuque’s (16-4-0) winner came on a corner kick that was knocked down in front of goal, initially stopped by goalkeeper Beth Crow, then poked in by Katie Lynn in the 70th minute.
It came at a time when Wartburg was seeing more of the ball and producing more chances.
“They really had about one chance in the second half and they capitalized on it,” Pins said.
In the 68th minute, Wartburg defender Rachel Wauer collected the ball on the right side of the field and delivered it into the box, where it carried to UD goalkeeper Tiffany Duncan, who swatted it into the net attempting to catch it.
The Knights out-shot the Spartans 15-11, including an 11-5 second-half advantage. Seven of those second-half shots, though most were long-range attempts, were on goal after just two in the opening 45 minutes.
“We came out great in the second half,” Pins said. “I wish that team would have showed up in the first half.”
Lynn gave her team the lead in the 40th minute, when the ball ricocheted to her in the middle of the field. She turned, and lobbed the ball over Crow from 25 yards out.
Crow finished with four saves, including a leaping stop that kept the match scoreless in the 23rd minute.
It’s the second win for UD, which won its first ever regular season conference championship in a tightly contested race, over Wartburg this season. The first was in overtime.
“We are right there. I think we are there. We got glimpses of it this season,” Pins said. “This group worked day in and day out to try to get there and that’s all I could ask for.”
The Spartans host Central, 1-0 overtime winners over Luther, for the league’s automatic NCAA tournament bid Saturday.