MONTGOMERY, Ala. - After hurdling No. 4 William Carey in the opening round of the Southern States Athletic Conference tournament on Saturday, the Lady Eagles were looking to secure their first-ever NAIA national tournament appearance with a victory in the semifinals at the Emory-Folmar Soccer Complex here Thursday evening. No. 2 Mobile stood in the way, but after a pair of scoreless overtimes, Faulkner claimed the upset with a phenomenal performance in the net by Tia Rogers. The junior goalkeeper iced three consecutive Ram penalty kick tries, while the Lady Eagles landed three of four to clinch a spot in the league finals and berth in the NAIA tournament.
Mobile blistered Faulkner 6-0 in a late regular season matchup, but the Lady Eagles entered the semifinals armed with a relentless confidence that seemed to catch the Rams off guard.
Mobile held possession for much of the first half and dominated in the midfield which setup several chances deep in Faulkner territory. A stingy Lady Eagle back line and rock-solid net work by Rogers kept the event in check, however.
Faulkner got a scare nine minutes into the second half when the Rams took three rapid shots at the frame. Rogers knocked the first bullet out of harm's way, but Mobile collected two more rebounds before the Lady Eagles fended off the assault.
The birds weren't without threats of their own however, and assembled numerous attacks late in each half.
After a 90 minute stalemate the event headed into extended play and finally to a shootout.
Cassie Wilcox drilled the first penalty kick for Faulkner. Just moments later, the crowd erupted when Rogers punched a Ram try wide of the frame.
Chelsea Jones' kick was stopped by the Mobile keeper, but Rogers came up big again when she easily snagged the Rams' ensuing effort.
Haylie Gutierrez hammered an easy shot by the keeper, extending Faulkner's lead.
Rogers put Faulkner in the driver's seat when she knocked the third Mobile effort beyond the left post.
Meredith Argeros then shook the net to advance the team to the SSAC finals for the first time in program history.
Rogers finished the game with four saves.
The Lady Eagles have had a motto, a chant, they've cried before and after every game this season - "Rise". It seems safe to say, they've done just that.
Faulkner has come into its own at the perfect moment. They've knocked out two Top 5 teams and another remains - No. 1 Lee.
Lee has never lost a conference game and Faulkner is looking to end the tournament on an even higher note by being the first team to accomplish that feat.
Lee defeated Faulkner 3-2 (2OT) in a regular season matchup a few weeks ago.
The Lady Eagles (7-11-2) will take on the Lady Flames in the SSAC title game at the Emory-Folmar Complex on Saturday at 1 p.m.