TOPEKA – The eighth-ranked Hutchinson Community College women’s soccer team kept its bid alive for a third-straight Region VI championship after defeating Barton 3-1 on Saturday in the Region VI Tournament semifinals at Hummer Park in Topeka.
The Lady Dragons (16-1) advance to their third-straight and sixth overall regional championship game. Hutchinson will now meet No. 4 Butler at 3 p.m. on Sunday. It’s the third-straight season that the Lady Dragons and Grizzlies will meet in the Region VI title game. The winner will get an automatic bid to the 2012 NJCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Tournament in three weeks in Melbourne, Fla.
Sophomore Melissa Hetherington posted her second-straight postseason hat trick with three goals against the Cougars (15-4-1) to lead the Lady Dragons.
Tied at 1-1 early in the second half, Hetherington took a through ball up the middle channel and beat Barton goalkeeper Stephanie Lomas for a 2-1 lead with 37:45 to play in the second half.
Through two postseason games, Hetherington has 19 points, nine goals and an assist to power HCC. For the season she now has 29 goals with her eighth career hat trick. The career leader in points and goals, Hetherington now has 164 and 65 goals.
Hetherington scored her first goal of the game late in the first half when she scored an unassisted goal at the 40:48 mark. Barton didn’t take long to answer when Bianca Barron scored to tie the game at 1-1 with less than 2 minutes remaining in the first half.
After Hetherington’s second goal, the Lady Dragons held that precarious one-goal lead for the next 30 minutes. The Cougars’ best chance to tie the game came with just less than 15 minutes remaining in the game when they sent a good corner kick into the box, but the Lady Dragons came away unscathed.
Hetherington completed the hat trick and gave HCC a huge insurance goal when she scored from a Danielle Sheehy pass with less than seven minutes remaining in the contests.
Hutchinson out-shot Barton 14-3 as the Cougars tried to clog up the midfield and not allow the Lady Dragons to have any offensive space to maneuver.
Sophomore goalkeeper Eunice Figueroa tied a Lady Dragon postseason record with her fifth career victory. Figueroa made just two saves in earning her 25th all-time victory, which is second on the career list for Hutchinson goalkeepers.
GAME NOTES – This is Hutchinson’s third postseason meeting with Barton. HCC defeated the Cougars 2-0 in the 2005 opening round at Great Bend at 4-0 in the 2010 Region VI semifinals. … The Lady Dragons are 17-6 all time in postseason games and 6-3 all time in the semifinals. Gahagan was credited with the game-winning assist, her fourth of the season.