SALT LAKE CITY — On Monday, Salt Lake Community College's women's soccer team was scheduled to play in its first-ever national semifinal.
By Tuesday morning, the Bruins were bound for the national championship.
Hannah Lee scored the lone goal of the match early in the second half, and goalkeeper Carli Jager made eight saves to help it stand up as No. 2 Salt Lake held off No. 3 Eastern Florida State 1-0 late Monday night in Evans, Georgia, in a match that ended around 1 a.m. ET.
"This is a historic night for our program and I'm very excited for our institution," SLCC coach Mark Davis said. "Our players have humbly handled adversity with poise all season long, doing the same with tonight's weather delay. Both teams played extremely well this evening and we're excited to be advancing.
"It was one of the most special things I've ever been a part of. The girls were 100% committed for 90 minutes."
After more than two hours' worth of weather delays and a scoreless first half, Lee gave the Bruins (15-1-1) an early lead less than 10 minutes into the second half. Herriman product Cassidy Adams forced a turnover around midfield, and the hard-working redshirt freshman laid off the ball to Lee before the sophomore from Murray High recovered the loose ball and eventually uncorked a blast that dipped just under the crossbar in the 51st minute to give Salt Lake a 1-0 advantage.
Hannah Lee gives @BruinAthletics a 1-0 lead in the second half of the @NJCAA_Soccer national semifinal.— KSL.com Sports (@KSLcomSports) June 8, 2021
Yes, after a two-hour+ weather delay, they're still playing in Georgia. pic.twitter.com/SJ8B9H86d4
Eastern Florida nearly equalized just six minutes later, but Jager, who prepped at Skyline, put a finger on a shot to push it into the post and keep the clean sheet through the hour mark.
"Our defense has lifted us throughout the season, so it is fitting it did the same for us tonight," Davis said. "Our commitment to playing strong defense showed tonight and helped us to this victory. It was one of the most-committed games we played this year, and it was magical."
The Bruins led the nation with 6.06 goals per game on 29.5 shots, and won the tournament's Pool B on penalty kicks. Defensively, Salt Lake ranked fourth nationally with a 0.44 goals-against average — just behind the Titans, who posted a 0.30 goals-against average. A defensive battle ensued, but the Bruins held on and will face top-ranked Tyler in Tuesday's championship.
Kickoff from Tuesday's final is scheduled for 5 p.m. MT (weather permitting) and will be streamed live at njcaa.org/network.
No. 1 Tyler 4, No. 4 Snow 0
The Badgers' run to the fifth-year program's first-ever NJCAA national semifinal was ended by the top-ranked Apaches.
Tyler opened the scoring less than two minutes into the match, and Morgan VanDerPutt and Jacqueline Wiebe each added a first-half goal as the Apaches cruised to a 3-0 halftime advantage and rolled to their 17th win of the season.
The reigning champions advanced to the title match for the fourth consecutive season.
NJCAA men's soccer championships
Meanwhile, Taimu Okiyoshi scored twice to help the Salt Lake men's team advanced to its first-ever national semifinal with a 3-1 victory over Barton Community College earlier Monday afternoon in Wichita, Kansas.
Okiyoshi scored his second goal of the season in the opening minutes, and Ryan Jiba doubled the advantage moments later.
Okiyoshi added his second goal to put the Bruins up 3-0 — a crucial goal, as it assured Salt Lake of passage to the national semifinals by beating the Bulldogs by two goals.
The Bruins will face No. 6 Harcum at 6 p.m. MT Wednesday. The match will be streamed on njcaa.org/network.
Top-ranked Iowa Western will face No. 5 Tyler in the other semifinal.