The Dominican University women's soccer team worked overtime to make history.
Nallely Arreola's goal four minutes into overtime lifted the Stars over Edgewood College 1-0 in a tense semifinal of the Northern Athletics Conference Tournament Wednesday in River Forest.
It also gave Dominican (15-4-1) a program record for wins in a season.
"It is a very proud moment," Stars coach Jeff Halsema said. "I'm extremely proud of what these girls have been able to do and the mark they have left on this program this year."
Arreola's unassisted game-winner came on a terrific individual effort. The junior forward negotiated the ball into Edgewood's zone, maneuvered around a couple defenders, stopped right outside the box, sized up the situation and then ripped it into the goal.
"It seemed like I had it forever," Arreola said. "I looked up when I got through two girls. I was like, 'I'm right by the goal so I'll take a shot.' I didn't have like the perfect shot so I thought I'll take my chances and curve it with my foot, and it just went in … This is the biggest goal I've ever scored."
"Normally when you're counterattacking you really want to make good on it before they get their numbers back, but she was strong," Halsema said. "She held the ball. She turned. The defender went to cut off the pass to the player that was open, and she made a great move into the middle of the field, and found a way to finish the ball. It looked like a real good finish. I don't think the keeper really had any chance even if she would have dove."
The goal touched off a celebration among the Stars. They advance to the championship match against nemesis Aurora University (15-5-1). The match is slated for 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Aurora.
Dominican seeks its first NAC Tournament title and the automatic NCAA Division III tournament berth that goes with it. The Stars lost to Aurora 1-0 Oct. 13 in Aurora during the regular season.
"We're going to give them a run for their money like we always do and, hopefully, pull this one out," Halsema said.
The semifinal contained tightly contested action even though Dominican wound up outshooting Edgewood (15-5-1) 11-4 with a shots-on-goal advantage of 3-0.
Megan Schulz registered her 12th shutout of the season.
Dominican's best chance to score in regulation came in the 23rd minute when Elizabeth Ficek's right-to-left shot rolled just wide of the post.
Edgewood's best opportunity was two minutes into the second half when Kristina Santaga saw the left side of the net open, but her shot traveled wide.
As regulation ended, the match appeared headed to a shootout as two scoreless overtime periods looked like a possibility.
"We hoped it wasn't," Arreola said. "Coach was like get ready to play 20 minutes, but when we huddled up we were like, 'It's not going to 20. We've got to finish it right now in the first five or 10,' and that's what we did. We grinded it out and we all did it as a team."
Thanks to Arreola providing the finishing touch.
"It was a good effort on her part," Edgewood coach Tim Alexander said. "We just made a mistake in their half. We were retreating and we just didn't clear it. It was a good game, though. You're sad that we lost, but both teams played hard."
"We knew it was going to be a really tough, just kind of tactical battle," Halsema said. "It was going to be a matter of the first breakdown and the first team to make good on the opportunity. I thought we really played well the whole game."