ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – Twice the Lindsey Wilson College women's soccer team had to rebound from one-goal deficits.
But in the end, it's the Blue Raiders capturing the 2012 NAIA Women's Soccer National Championship after topping Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) 3-2 at the Orange Beach Sportsplex on Saturday.
It's the third national title in Lindsey Wilson program history, after also bringing home the NAIA's red banner in 2004 and 2006.
Blue Raider head coach Drew Burwash, in his 10th season, has been at the helm for all of them, posting a 28-12-2 career record in the national tournament.
Lindsey Wilson (20-4-1) has reached the championship game four times, posting a 3-1 record.
On Saturday night, the Blue Raiders had to put tradition aside and hold off a feisty Tiger team in the hunt for its first championship.
Olivet Nazarene (19-4-1) was a long shot to advance this far as a No. 12 seed, but it knocked off four-time defending champion Lee (Tenn.) on Friday and wasted no time putting second-seeded Lindsey Wilson on its heels.
In the game's fourth minute, Devin Johnston put the Tigers up 1-0 off a corner kick by Kelsey Warp. Johnston headed the ball in from point-blank range in front of the goal.
Luckily for Lindsey Wilson it was able to return the favor two minutes later as Elizabet Madjarac fed a corner kick to Emilia Jonsson who tucked a shot into the top shelf of the goal. Jonsson had just one goal on the season entering the contest.
The 1-1 tie remained until the 20th minute when Jessica Hinger bent a goal in after a through ball from Emma Reutter. Hinger started her attempt from the right corner of the box and found the back of the net on the far left side of the goal.
Playing behind again, this time the deficit lasted a little longer as the Blue Raiders wouldn't equalize until the 33rd minute. Awarded a free kick from just outside the 18, the strong leg of Elisha Fry was called into action to scorch a goal just inside the far post.
After taking a 2-2 tie into halftime, Lindsey Wilson came back in top form, firing the first three shots of the half.
The fourth attempt was a charm, as Madjarac delivered what would end up as the game winner off a cross from Renee Hurd. Madjarac used her body to put the ball down in front of the goal and quickly turned for the finish to put Lindsey Wilson up 3-2 in the 60th minute.
With 30 minutes of soccer left to play, it was now the Blue Raiders looking to hold on to a one-goal lead. Olivet Nazarene found finding open space a chore as it failed to attempt a single shot the rest of the game.
Lindsey Wilson outshot Olivet Nazarene 24-6, including a 6-4 advantage in shots on goal. Jonsson and Mia Persson led the Blue Raiders with two shots on frame each, while four different Tigers took one shot.
Corner-kick chances were lopsided for the Blue Raiders as well at 14-1, while fouls went in favor of Olivet Nazarene 11-10.
Josephine Frigge finished with two saves for the Blue Raiders, while Tiger keeper Wendy Espejel collected three saves. The five combined goals were the most in a championship final since 1996 when Simon Fraser (B.C.) beat Mobile (Ala.) 3-2 in five overtimes.
Persson was named the championship's most valuable player after tallying five goals and an assist through five games. She also earned the NAIA Champions of Character award as well as a spot on the all-tournament team.
Also earning major awards for Lindsey Wilson were Madjarac as the offensive MVP with three goals and five assists and Hurd earned defensive MVP honors. Hurd and Madjarac also earned spots on the all-tournanent team.