Hurricanes Advance to Second Round of NCAA Tournament

Nov. 12, 2011

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The Miami Hurricanes advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history with a 3-2 win over Alabama Saturday in the game’s second sudden victory period.

On a windy day at Cobb Stadium, it was visiting Alabama who seized early momentum. Strong play from the Hurricane backline and goalkeeper Vikki Alonzo, however, kept the scoreboard locked at zeroes in the opening minutes of the contest.

The Canes would see a build in their own momentum with impressive passing sequences in the midfield. With tempo in their favor, the Hurricanes began to attack the net; an eighth-minute shot by Jordan Roseboro went just wide, and a wild scramble in the box in the tenth minute was steered clear by an Alabama defender.

The teams traded possession as the first half moved forward. Freshman Ashley Flinn, delivering strong service throughout the day, had a cross deflected wide by an Alabama defender that nearly ended up in the back of the net in the 18th minute.

Alabama broke the deadlock against the run of play, however, as a beautiful cross from Ashley Willis in the game’s 20th minute landed squarely on the head of Kendall Khana. The goal, which sailed past Alonzo’s outstretched arms, was Khana’s fifth tally of the year.

The Canes failed to let the goal put a damper on their inspired play. After a Blake Stockton shot sailed just over the crossbar, the Hurricanes tied the game on a beautiful header from freshman Shannon Caspar on a cross from Flinn in the 29th minute.

Alabama built momentum as the first half moved forward, but senior goalkeeper Vikki Alonzo’s two point blank saves of Theresa Diederich in the box kept the game nodded at one at the conclusion of the period.

The early moments of the second frame would lack the pace that defined the tightly contested first half. Alabama’s Laura Lee Smith took advantage of a Hurricanes’ defensive lapse in the 71st minute to net her fourth goal of the year on a pass from Kaitlyn Smith, recapturing a 2-1 lead for Alabama.

The Hurricanes would once again respond with strong play of their own, culminating in Kate Howarth’s 11th goal of the season. The Second-Team All-ACC selection tied the game up with a header into the back corner of the net on a dead ball cross from Tara Schwitter in the 77th minute.

The hometown Canes almost pulled out the victory in the 82nd minute with a scramble in the Alabama box that took two deflections before trickling out of bounds. Another header from Howarth in the 87th minute couldn’t find the back of the net, and the game entered extra time knotted at two goals apiece.

It was Howarth again who almost won the game for the Hurricanes in the opening minute of the first sudden victory period. Her breakaway chip would sail just over the crossbar, however, as the game remained tied at the conclusion of the period.

Flinn would become the hero of the day for the Hurricanes in the second sudden victory. On a beautiful lead ball from Howarth, Flinn slotted the ball into the back of the net to send the Hurricanes to their first NCAA Tournament victory in program history. The freshman’s fourth goal of the year was her most important to date, as the Hurricanes moved into the second round of the tournament and a match-up with either Long Beach State University or Pepperdine on Nov. 18.