By Travis Jarome, Alabama State Director of Athletic Strategic Communications
PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas | Alabama State earned their third Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship in five years, defeating Grambling State on penalty kicks Sunday afternoon to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Alabama State (8-2-2) and Grambling State battled to a draw earlier in the season and did the same through regulation and overtime on Sunday to force the penalty kicks. Alabama State got on the board first when Teaggan Ilela punched it in on a corner kick in the 39th minute for a 1-0 lead. The match stayed that way until Macy Ramsey tied it for Grambling State in the 53rd minute.
Mercedes Padilla scored her first goal of the year on an assist from McKenna Wiscombe in the 66th minute to put Alabama State up before Grambling State tied in the 71st minute on Kailey Pena’s 15th goal of the season. The two teams played the next 39 minutes scoreless to force the penalty kicks.
Grambling State got on the board first in the shootout when Miranda Urbizu pushed one past Madison Roop to the left for the early advantage. However, that didn’t last long as McKenna Lupori went to the upper portion of the goal to tie things up for Alabama State. The Tigers missed their next two, including a save by Roop, while Alabama State used goals by Grace Norbury and Padilla to put the pressure on Grambling State.
The final attempt of the day for Grambling State went wide right, handing Alabama State their first conference title since 2017. McKenna Wiscombe was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and she was joined on the all-tournament team by Ashley Thomas, Lupori, Ilela and Roop.
Alabama State will find out their opponent for the 2021 Spring NCAA Tournament on April 19, with this year’s tournament (both men and women) being held in Cary (N.C.) and the surrounding area. The first round of the tournament will take place April 27-28.