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Lady Cougars Are NCCAA DII National Champions

As the sun set on November 12, 2011, Clearwater Christian College women's soccer coach Mark Bates gathered his team together in a quiet, dimly lit area of Austin Tindall Park in Kissimmee FL. The 2011 national tournament had not gone well for Clearwater. Despite being seeded 3rd, their 0-2 record left them with a 7th place finish. Disappointment is not a strong enough word to describe what was being felt at that moment. Through all that, Coach Bates looked at his team and said “We're close, I know it may not feel that way right now but we're close.” He may have been the only one that believed those words when he said them, but Coach Bates could not have been more right.

Rome wasn't built in a day and neither are championship soccer teams. Don't believe me? Just ask the three seniors from the 2012 Clearwater women's soccer team – Katie Mills, Samantha Tierney, and Lydia Twigg. The ups and downs, twists and turns, and about faces these three young women have seen in their four years as student athletes at CCC are almost innumerable. Yet, here they are at the end of their college careers with medallions around their necks, smiles on their faces, and a championship banner. They are the first seniors to have the privilege of accepting the national championship banner at Clearwater, I do not believe they will be the last.

This was by far the most successful season in the Clearwater women's soccer program history. The 18 wins are the most in program history. The team scored 80 goals this season while giving up only 15, both are the best in program history. The Lady Cougars outscored their NCCAA DII opponents 61-2 and had 12 shutouts, most in program history.

It was a truly historic season for the women's soccer program, but as they headed into the national championship game, against defending champion Baptist Bible College, they knew none of that would matter. It would be 90 minutes of winner take all action.

In their biggest game of the year it would be the Lady Cougar's best players that rose to the occasion. Junior, All-American defender, Whitney Redemann scored the games opening goal. Her direct kick rose over the BBC goalkeeper's outstretched hand and under the crossbar, it was the perfect combination of power and placement. BBC forward Karin Mowry would head home a goal for her team shortly before halftime to even the score at 1-1.

The second half was all Clearwater. Tori Hale, the nations leading goalscorer, tallied what would prove to be the game winner early in the second half off of a pass from freshman midfielder Delaney Lester. Freshman forward, Leah Zwiers, would find the back of the net twice more as the Lady Cougars cruised to the 4-1 victory and the national title. Four Lady Cougars were honored by being named to the all tournament team – Goalkeeper Brook Buffalo, Defender Whitney Redemann, Midfielder Rebecca Farrell, and Forward Tori Hale.

Ultimately, the success of the 2012 Clearwater Christian College women's soccer team does not lie in the hands of the players, coaches, or fans but in the hands of God. Shortly after the 2012 national championship game ended, Coach Bates again had a private moment with his team, this time in the middle of the field with everyone looking on. This time he prayed “Let those who boast, boast in the Lord.”