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Cougars Claim OVC Crown, Return to NCAA Tournament

2016 Ohio Valley Conference Champions!
2016 Ohio Valley Conference Champions!

MURRAY. Ky. – SIUE women's soccer is NCAA Tournament bound for the second time in three seasons, as the fourth-seeded Cougars shut out No. 2 seed Eastern Kentucky 1-0 Sunday afternoon to capture the 2016 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship.

SIUE will learn its NCAA Tournament fate Monday afternoon. The NCAA selection show will air on NCAA.com beginning at 3:30 p.m.

"It is a huge credit to the entire group: our team and our whole staff," SIUE Head Coach Derek Burton said. "It took us a little while this year to get everything together but we kept the big picture in perspective."

The Cougars will carry a four-game undefeated streak into the tournament. SIUE is now 10-7-4 overall.

Lindsey Fencel gave the Cougars and early lead and SIUE made it stand. Fencel netted the lone goal of the day which was set up after an SIUE corner kick. Fencel bested Eastern Kentucky goalkeeper Anna Hall, firing a shot under the crossbar from the top of the box. Emily Grahl picked up the assist after feeding Fencel with a pass from the end line.

"It's huge," Burton said about scoring an early goal. "It gives you confidence. It gives you confidence that what you're doing is working."

EKU appeared to have tied the game in the 43rd minute. Kayla Childs converted on a penalty kick, but it was decided that the kick should not have counted and MiKayla Brillon was sent to retry the kick. SIUE junior goalkeeper Juli Rossi made a kick save on the second attempt.  

"Juli is about as mentally strong of a player that we have," Burton said. "She is well-prepared by Coach (Samuel) Thomas."

Caroline Hoefert earned Most Outstanding Player honors for the OVC Tournament after assisting on a pair of goals in Friday's semifinal. She was joined on the All-Tournament team by Grahl, Rossi and Courtney Benning.

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