By Ken Mauss
The women’s soccer team notched two wins this past weekend advancing them to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III tournament. The College hosted Christopher Newport University on Saturday, shutting out the Captains 4-0. The Lions continued their winning streak on Sunday with a 3-0 win over Ithaca College also at home.
Led by junior defender Nikki Migliori the Lions defeated the Bombers, allowing them to advance to the next round. Migliori scored two goals in the first half off of direct kicks to take the lead.
“Scoring the first goal helped a lot,” Migliori said. “It calmed everyone down and let everybody settle down. We were a little anxious at the start.”
Head coach Joe Russo agreed.
“Scoring the first goal is huge. Anytime you can get an early goal and not have to chase it’s a good thing,” Russo said.
The game was scoreless for the first 31 minutes, before the Lions lit up the scoreboard with 13:52 remaining in the first half. Migliori’s first goal came from 25 yards out on a direct kick. The shot was struck perfectly out of the reach of Ithaca’s goalkeeper in the upper corner. Less than two minutes later, she struck again extending the lead to 2-0.
Junior midfielder Annie McCarthy put the game to bed in the second half, notching her fourth goal of the season, and the third of the afternoon for the Lions.
Hosting the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournaments worked in favor of the Lions. With the other three teams traveling from as far as Virginia and New York, the Lions had the advantage of not enduring a long bus trip.
“It’s a huge advantage not having to stay in a hotel,” Migliori said. “The fans are there to support you, and we got to sleep in our own beds. It definitely helped.”
The College does not have that advantage this week. Messiah College is the No. 1-ranked team in the country and in the Lions’ bracket. They also haven’t lost in nearly three years.
“They’re a very good team, and definitely deserve the opportunity to host,” Russo said.
The Lions will face Johns Hopkins University in the next round of the tournament. The two teams met earlier this season, as the Lions fell 2-0 to the Blue Jays. They are the only team to score more than one goal against the Lions this year.
“Obviously (Johns) Hopkins is a good team, but we’re better than we were when we last played them,” Russo said. “We’re playing our best soccer of the year at the right time and that’s critical.”
The Lions will continue tournament play on Saturday, Nov. 20. as they travel to Mesiah College for a 7:30 p.m. game against the Blue Jays.