Foley, AL – It hasn't even been a decade since Monroe College made the jump from Division III to compete at the Division I level. After Saturday night, the Mustangs now have two titles in five years after they rallied to beat the defending national champion Tyler, 3-1.
Knowing the class and ability that Tyler possesses, Monroe got off to a terrible start to the 2018 NJCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship title game. Just 90 seconds into the game, Tyler's Hitomi Kono opened the scoring after corraling a deflected ball and sliding it past the keeper to put Monroe in an early hole.
The Apaches would control much of the first half, but Monroe goalkeeper Marta Alemany kept it a one-goal game on multiple occasions. The sophomore would make five big saves over the course of the match.
The Mustangs would get on the board right before half. Francesca Sullivan was set in the middle of the box when a free kick from teammate Alba Gonzalez was sent in from the right sideline. Sullivan was able to use a header to redirect the ball over the keeper to equalize the score.
Throughout the early part of the second half, the game remained even. Both teams had chances, but it was Monroe who would capitalize next in the 73rd minute. Maria Santin was able to collect a ball at the top of the box before getting around the last Tyler defender to slot it for what would end up being the game-winning goal.
Monroe added an insurance goal in the 84th minute as Angie Ponce made a solid run between two central defenders to put the game to bed.
The Mustangs had a little extra support on Saturday as their men's team joined them in Foley. The men dropped their national semifinal a day earlier 475 miles east in Daytona Beach, FL. But it was all smiles for the Mustangs' program on Saturday as the women add their second national championship trophy.
- Monroe was one of six teams in either division to have both its men's and women's teams make it to their respective national tournament (Monroe, Tyler, Eastern Florida State, Richland, Genesee, Howard)
- Both of Monroe's national championships in women's soccer came by defeating the top overall seed in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 final match-up. (No. 2 Monroe defeated No. 1 Iowa Western 2-1 in 2014)
- Monroe's Yolanda Albalat and Marta Alemany were named Tournament Offensive and Defensive Most Valuable Player, respectively.
- The Mustangs led the way with five players on the All-Tournament team.