English: John Brown University Communications
Español Por: Carlos Chicas
SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. — Sophomore Sienna Nealon is used to scoring big goals – including a pair of deciding marks over No. 12 Mobile (Ala.) and No. 2 William Carey (Miss.) earlier this year – but none was bigger than the one she buried at the back post in the second half on Saturday (Nov. 17) afternoon. Her eighth goal of the season, fourth game-winner, lifted the 11-seed John Brown University women’s soccer team to a 1-0 victory over Kansas Wesleyan at Alumni Field, and into the NAIA National Championships Round of 16 for the first time in program history.
Entering the match winless in four attempts on the biggest stage, the Golden Eagles (16-4-1) pieced together a strong defensive effort that resulted in the team’s 13th clean sheet of the season. Highlighted by allowing just two shots on frame, the hosts claimed its first-ever Opening Round victory by keeping the Coyote (17-3-2) offense in check for the entirety of the match. John Brown just had to score on a KWU defensive corps that hadn’t allowed a goal since Oct. 14, a span of 723:39.
After a scoreless first half that featured four shots apiece from each team, the Golden Eagles continued to grind away on the Coyote back line.
Kula stepped up to deliver the service on the restart, and sent a perfectly-placed ball into the box that found the head of junior Kristen Howell, who flicked a shot attempt toward KWU keeper Daisy Bingham. Bingham dove to her left and made an acrobatic save, but Nealon was there for the rebound, firing in the game-winner at the back post.
“Our theme has been how to take the next step this season,” head coach Kathleen Paulsen said. “Making it here, hosting this game and winning this game were all steps, firsts for the program. Sienna has been scoring big goals in big moments for us all year long. It was a gritty effort – I loved it.”
John Brown continues its season down in the Round of 16 in Orange Beach, Ala., where the Golden Eagles will face a familiar foe. Southeastern (Fla.), the 6-seed, easily dispatched Truett-McConnell (Ga.) 4-0 in its Opening Round matchup in Lakeland, Fla. JBU, who fell 3-1 earlier this season at Alumni Field to the Fire, will take on SEU (18-1-2) on Tuesday (Nov. 27) at 6:30 p.m.