COLUMBIA — It was the revenge the Columbia College women's soccer team waited for since September.
Columbia beat Missouri Baptist 3-1 in an American Midwest Conference tournament semifinal Monday night. Earlier this season, the Spartans beat Columbia 2-1 in St. Louis.
American Midwest Conference
Women's soccer tournament championship game
Columbia vs. Park
When: 5 p.m. Thursday
Where: R. Marvin Owens Stadium, Columbia
Columbia, who hasn't lost since, is now scheduled to face Park University at home in the tournament championship at 5 p.m. Thursday.
On a rainy, windy night, the Cougars battled the elements and kept possession for much of the game. Coach John Klein said his players refused to let Missouri Baptist get into a rhythm.
"I don't think anybody had an exceptional game," Klein said. "Everybody just did their job."
Columbia struck first with a goal from junior midfielder MacKenzie Knepper in the 16th minute. After Missouri Baptist failed to clear the ball from the box, senior midfielder Stephanie Hale passed it to Knepper, who booted it past Spartan goalkeeper Sam Schulze.
The half ended with the Cougars up 1-0, and Klein was happy.
"I thought the girls did a really good job against the wind," Klein said. "We weren't threatened much, and we had a lot of good opportunities."
Many more opportunities would come Columbia's way in the second half.
In the 52nd minute, sophomore forward Kelly Ross kicked a shot from just outside the 18-yard box past Schulze. The goal put Columbia up 2-0, and it deflated the Missouri Baptist players.
Columbia continued to get quality chances, but it couldn't convert again until the 80th minute, when Hale made a streaking run down the left wing and placed a low shot into the corner of the Spartan goal.
It seemed the game would end 3-0, but Missouri Baptist senior forward Carly Hempel had other ideas. In the 88th minute, Hempel kicked a shot from 25 yards out into the upper right corner of the Cougar goal.
Though the score was different this time, Klein experienced some deja vu in Monday's game.
"I felt like the matchup was real similar, especially in terms of the first half," Klein said. "We controlled the play, we weren't threatened a lot, and we had the one-goal lead."
In Columbia's loss to Missouri Baptist, the Cougars allowed the Spartans to score two second-half goals, but Klein was glad his team played hard for the whole 90 minutes this time.
"That team is the most organized and hardest working team we've faced," Klein said. "We broke them down and had good opportunities to score."
And the revenge is sweet for Columbia.
"Credit to them. They had a really good season, but we're the ones that get to move on," Klein said. "Just happy to move forward to the final."
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.