Callum Riley's hopeful short cross in the box found its mark and Vincent Bailey drilled in just his second goal of the season with 98 second remaining Thursday night to lift No. 9 Incarnate Word to a 1-0 win over No. 4 Midwestern State in NCAA Division II first play at Benson Stadium in San Antonio.
"It just a play where Kelly (Gill) slipped on the turf," MSU coach Doug Elder said. "(Bailey) was able to trap and scored."
Incarnate Word (14-2-3) advances to face Central Region champion No. 3 Fort Lewis Sunday in Durango, Colo., while the Mustangs close the season with a 13-4-1 mark.
"They played really well in the second half and threw a lot of numbers forward," Elder said. "We didn't possess the ball like we did in the first half."
Incarnate Word controlled a convincing 18-6 edge in shots including a 10-2 second-half margin when the Cardinals appeared to dominate possession.
The Mustangs were unable to convert either of its four quality chances in the opening half as UIW goalkeeper made saves of shots by David Freeland in the 7th minute, a Chris Dwyer header off of a corner kick in the 15th minute, by Zach Funk in the 34th minute and another quality chance off of a loose ball in the box by Dwyer in the 37th minute.
"We played hard, organized and created great chances in the first half," Elder said. "These are two very good soccer teams and they had a great, very vocal crowd."
It was the Cardinals first postseason win in five tries against MSU. The victory was also their first positive postseason result since 2004.
But a Midwestern postseason run appeared a scant possibility after the Mustangs dropped consecutive matches for the first time since 2005 early last month.
"Our backs were against the wall the last seven games," Elder said. "We played with passion and played very physical tonight. We laid it all out on the line. I was proud of the guys. Both teams played very well."
The Mustangs peeled off a 6-0-1 stretch to close the regular season to earn their sixth straight postseason berth.
"It was a good run and the guys played hard," Elder said. "We just didn't get the bounce. That's just what happens sometimes."
A season that started with a flourish came crashing down Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the Lone Star Conference Championship at the West Texas A&M Fieldhouse in Canyon.
No. 18 Angelo State rolled to a straight-set 25-18, 25-16, 25-14 victory to oust Midwestern State which closed the season with a 15-16 mark.
The Rambelles move on to Friday's semifinal round and will face Abilene Christian, a 3-2 winner over Cameron earlier in the afternoon.
MSU senior Hillary White delivered an admirable performance with 11 kills while hitting .346, but the Mustangs struggled to muster much more on the attack as junior outside hitter Shelbi Stewart had eight kills and freshman Katie Bertling added five more.
The defensive-strong Rambelles limited Midwestern to a .153 team hitting percentage and limited the touches for MSU active kills and attack percentage leader Caitlin Wallace as the sophomore middle blocker ended the match with two kills on just six attacks.
The Mustangs rolled out to a 14-11 lead in the opening set after White and Bertling combined on one of the team's five total blocks for the match.
Then Angelo State rode the service game of Maddie Huth to seven consecutive points before Shelby Wilt close out the frame with consecutive service aces.
Midwestern State could only manage early single-point leads in the final two sets as Angelo State rolled on to a 29-4 record.
Kaelen Valdez led the Angelo State attack with 13 kills while Huth close with nine to pace the 'Belles to a .257 team hitting percentage.
MSU senior Kiara Jordan closed out her stellar career with a match-high 17 digs. The two-time LSC Libero of the Year closes the season with a school record 687 digs and ranks second in career digs at 1,936.
The Mustangs opened the season with a straight-set win over No. 20 Truman (Mo.) and got off to a 6-1 start in what proved to be a roller coaster campaign.
The team experienced consecutive streaks of five losses, six wins, three losses and three wins before finishing the season with seven consecutive defeats.
The Mustangs battled through several injuries to key players including a season-ending blow for senior team leader Miranda Byrd. The All-LSC first-team performer missed the last seven games after becoming just the seventh player in school history to record 1,000 career kills.
Midwestern State's Hillary White earned Capital One Academic All-District second-team honors as released Thursday afternoon by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
White, an outside hitter from North Richland Hills, carries a 3.89 grade-point average as an English major.
The senior all-around performer is a three-year starter and a four-year letter winner for the Mustangs helping the team to four consecutive LSC Championship postseason appearances. That's a feat no other class has achieved at MSU.
White, a two-time LSC All-Academic performer, ranks ninth on the school's all-time digs list with 1,312 while averaging 2.28 kills and 3.46 digs per set this season. She also twice earned LSC Commissioner's Honor Roll during her stellar career.
To be eligible for the Capital One Academic All America program, student-athletes must have played in at least 50 percent of the teams' contests, reached sophomore athletic and academic standing, completed at least one full academic year at the nominating institution and have at least a 3.30 cumulative grade-point average on the 4.0 system for her entire collegiate career.
The Capital One Academic All-District 6 team is chosen by sports information directors, who select the players on the basis of both athletic and academic achievement.
Student-athletes chosen to the first team move on to the Capital One Academic All America ballot.