The women’s soccer team entered the New Jersey Athletic Conference final with much pressure on it’s shoulders. The College was challenged with reclaiming its top spot in the conference, as well a second chance at defeating William Paterson University — one of only to teams to deal the Lions a loss this season. The tension was thick on the field, but the women’s soccer team fought through it for the win.
The Lions (16-2-1) were able to once again finish first in the NJAC this year, with a 2-0 victory over the Pioneers on Saturday, gaining the College its fifth title in the past six years and its 14th overall since the tournament began in 1994.
“We had lost to William Paterson during the regular season, so this was a huge win for us,” junior defender Brittany McGinley said. “We just knew that we needed to play our best soccer and be the most determined in order to win.”
The win automatically guarantees the women’s team a spot in the 2010 NCAA Division III national tournament. The team’s advancement to the national tournament will mark the Lions’ 20th consecutive appearance.
“Post-season is an exciting time and we have been working hard and playing as a team,” McGinley said. “We need to take it one step at a time without looking too far ahead.”
The Lions collected the win with two goals, one in each half of the game Saturday night. McGinley placed one in the back of the net for 1-0 lead with 20:13 left in the game. The goal marked McGinley’s fifth of the season and third in the last three games.
“I have had the opportunity to move up from defense to midfield and that has allowed me to get more looks at the goal,” McGinley said.
Junior midfielder Annie McCarthy scored the second goal in the second half off of a corner kick from sophomore defender Allyson Anderson. McCarthy headed the ball in the net, gaining her third goal of the season and a 2-0 lead for the Lions.
Freshman goalkeeper Kendra Griffith recorded her 11th shutout of the season with six saves.
In order for the Lions to have gotten this far in the conference, though, the team first had to defeat previous NJAC final opponent Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in the NJAC semifinal game on Wednesday, Nov. 3.
The Lions were able to overtake the Ospreys 2-1 in the semi-finals, dealing Stockton its seventh loss, putting its final record at 12-7-1.
“This was the second time we played them and the result was good for us,” head coach Joe Russo said. “The next game will be tough, it’s a different matchup for us. We need to grab hold, and play possession, finish chances and be opportunistic in finishing.”
Sophomore midfielder Amy Van Dyk put the Lions in the lead with a goal in the first half. Junior forward Brenna Rubino netted another goal for the team late in the second half, putting the Lions up 2-0. The Ospreys, however, attempted a late comeback with a goal in the remaining six minutes of the game. Nevertheless, the Lions held them to the end, marking their 15th win of the season.
The College will play host to round one of the NCAA Division III Tournament as the Lions take on Christopher Newport University on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 11 a.m. at Lions’ Stadium.
Hilarey Wojtowicz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org