Lions heading into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed

The Lions finished the season at 15-2. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)
The Lions finished the season at 15-2. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)

With the last game of the season on the horizon, the women’s soccer team did what they’ve done all season — win at home.

The No. 2 seed in the upcoming conference tournament made it known they are ready to make a run after ending the regular season with a dominant 7-0 home win over Rutgers University-Newark.

“We feel like this was a good game to get in before postseason started,” senior goalkeeper Jessica Clarke said. “We made sure just to focus on the game of that day, and we wanted to close out the regular season before looking into post season play.”

The College has clinched a first round bye thanks to its second place finish in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC), and will host William Paterson University at home in the first playoff matchup.

“We’re just trying to get everyone on the same page, we’re just playing good soccer and it is what it is,” head coach Joe Russo said. “It’s nothing out of the ordinary, and we didn’t do anything different in this game than any other.”

Toni DeMaio has six points in her first season. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)
Toni DeMaio has six points in her first season. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)

In the senior night contest against their NJAC rival Scarlet Raiders, it was all about the four-year players.

Senior defender Jillian Casey capped off her stellar year with two goals in the first half to get the Lions rolling early. These two scores were her sixth and seventh of the season.

Junior midfielder Casey Caruso scored twice as well for the vaunted Lions offense, including a score just 1:36 into the game off the foot of Briann McDonough. She ends her impressive season with a team-high 10 goals.

“Those goals were important because we got them early, and they changed the game,” Russo said. “To score early means you can play more relaxed and with more confidence, and we did that.”

Goalkeeper Clarke capped off her memorable senior season with a combined shutout with sophomore Samantha Iamurri. Each goalkeeper played a half to achieve the Lions’ 13th shutout of the year.

Clarke is amazed with the fact that this huge victory was her last regular season win of her career.

“I just can’t believe how quickly my time here has gone, and I am very thankful for having the chance to play at such a great program,” Clarke said. “My experience here has been nothing short of enjoyable and memorable thanks to all the girls and coaches I have played with and for.”

The defense continued in the second half, but the offense did so as well. The explosive Lions offense hit the back of the net four more times in the final stanza, including a remarkable goal by forward Brenna Rubino.

The Lions finished the season with an impressive 15-2 record, and a 6-0 home record. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)
The Lions finished the season with an impressive 15-2 record, and a 6-0 home record. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)

The rookie beat Rutgers-Newark sophomore goalie Kat Renteria one-on-one on a pass from sophomore defender Brittany McGinley to secure her third winner of the season.

“It was a great ball in by Brittany, and she cleaned it up really well,” Russo said. “She played behind back line, and Brenna did a great job running in time and finishing.”

Goals by juniors Brianna Brennan and forward Julianne Delorenzo would ice it for the College, who tied its greatest margin of victory this season.

“We just came out with a lot of intensity, and we only had a couple night games on our schedule this year, we always get excited to play under the lights,” Clarke said. “Our team did a great job all around because we came out aggressive in all positions. Games like that are great because everyone gets the chance to create a scoring opportunity.”

The College ends its dominant regular season at 15-2 overall, including a 7-2 record in-conference. They were undefeated at home (6-0).

Despite all the accolades, accomplishments, and records, Russo knows there is still more work to be done.

“We really haven’t accomplished anything yet as far as I’m concerned,” Russo said. “We have an important game to win, and that’s what is getting our complete attention. Yes, we got the first-round bye and second place finish in the conference, but our focus is now on the task at hand.”