By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
PITTSBURGH — For two Miami County graduates from different high schools to end up on the same college team is already special enough.
But for them both to score game-winning goals in consecutive games, both monumental victories in their program’s history?
That’s exactly what Lauren Peters and Lauren Weimer did for the Lee University women’s soccer team as it competes in the NCAA Division II Championship tournament, with Peters scoring the game-winner in overtime in the Flames’ 2-1 victory over Mississipi College in the South Region championship match and Weimer heading in the only score in a 1-0 victory over Columbus State in the Elite Eight, propelling Lee to its first-ever Final Four appearance.
Peters, now a senior forward at Lee, is a 2015 Troy Christian High School graduate, while Weimer is a 2018 Tippecanoe High School graduate and now a freshman defender for the Flames.
“It’s awesome, and it’s been a lot of fun,” Peters said. “We actually both trained at Vargo Trained together for a little bit, and we always knew each other, kind of in passing. This year, we were able to get closer, and playing together has been a lot of fun.”
“It definitely made coming to Lee a lot easier, seeing a familiar face and us being able to get closer,” Weimer said. “It’s been awesome. Especially because she’s my sister’s (Emily) age, so I’ve always kind of looked up to her and watched her play. Being able to play with her in her last year has been awesome.”
Lee, a No. 4 seed in the South Region, began the tournament with a 2-1 victory over No. 5 Rollins, then it knocked off the region’s top seed and the No. 2 team in the country, West Florida, 1-0 in the regional semifinal — both wins coming in overtime — which set up a regional final matchup against third-seeded Mississippi College for the South title.
The Flames fell behind 1-0, but Mia Hollingsworth tied the score at the 73:01 mark on an assist from Peters to send the game to overtime. And in the 108th minute, Peters drove home a rebound off a shot by Hollingsworth to seal a 2-1 victory and send Lee to its first-ever Elite Eight appearance.
“It was a crazy game,” Peters said. “We had a lot of momentum going forward from the second half into overtime. We had a couple of really good opportunities.
“(Hollingsworth) actually shot the ball, and it was going upper-90. It bounced off the post, and I ran on it from 10 yards out. I took a touch that bobbled up a little bit and was able to hit it into the back of the net. It was one of the best feelings ever. It was really exciting.”
In high school, Peters’ Eagles reached the Ohio Division III district final all four years, including a regional final berth in 2012 — with Peters, the three-time Metro Buckeye Conference Player of the Year, typically leading the way. In the end, all of the goals she’d scored in her career were building towards that one.
“I think this one held more weight,” Peters said. “We hadn’t made it past that point. In school history, we haven’t made it this far. So just being able to play a part in that was real special.”
The regional final performance gave Peters six goals and two assists on the season, with a career total of 21 goals and four assists. Two of Peters’ goals this season have been game-winners, giving her six of those in her collegiate career.
And in the Elite Eight, the Flames were matched up against Southeast Region champion and the No. 3 team in the country, Columbus State.
This time, the Flames would not need overtime to advance as Weimer headed in a cross by Anna Lanter at the 62:10 mark to put Lee up 1-0, and junior keeper Taylor Green made that goal stand up by making six saves to post a shutout.
“It was so crazy,” Weimer said. “The past three games, I had been set up to score the game-winning goal in the last couple minutes of each game, and I wasn’t able to put it away. To be able to step up and score the only goal in this game and send us to the Final Four was a crazy experience.”
Weimer, a two-time first team All-Greater Western Ohio Conference American League and one-time first team Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division honoree in high school, now has three goals in her freshman season — all three of them game-winners.
“I had always dreamed about doing something like this, even when I was little — playing college soccer and competing for a national championship,” Weimer said. “I never would have imagined it would be in my first year in college. It’s awesome to be able to be a part of it, especially for Lauren’s senior year.”
“It was really exciting to see her be able to fulfill that and bring our team even further than we’ve been before,” Peters said.
The Flames (17-6-1) will now get the chance to finish its tour of D-II’s top three teams, facing unbeaten Grand Valley State (24-0-1), the No. 1 team in the country, in the Final Four at 8 p.m. Thursday in Pittsburgh. The Lakers hammered defending D-II national champion Central Missouri 6-1 in the tournament’s quarterfinal round.
“We had a rough start at the beginning of the season, and we’ve been able to peak at the right time. It’s just a really amazing thing to be a part of,” Peters said.
Josh Brown is the Sports Editor of the Troy Daily News. Contact him at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.