Lions ousted from NCAA bracket by Panthers

Saturday kicked off the NCAA Division III Tournament for the College’s women’s soccer players, who made a statement in the opening round with a decisive 3-0 victory over Roger Williams University, but followed with a loss to Middlebury College in the second round.

The Lions lost in the second round. (Lisa Nitzsche / Staff Photographer)

The Lions’ offense worked best by pushing the ball up the flanks, spreading and opening up the field, then slotting the ball back into the middle, in front of the net. Senior defender Brittany McGinley continued her torrid scoring ways by netting her 13th and 14th goals of the season.

“We took a while to get going, but once we did, the goals were going in,” junior defender Kyra Janeczek said. “We pressured them most of the game.”

The first goal came in the 36th minute of regulation, a tucked in rebound from a shot by junior midfielder Amy Van Dyk. Once the Lions found the back of the net, the floodgates opened up for their offense.

They pressured Roger Williams’ net early and often with scoring chances. Sophomore midfielder Sloan DiPiero netted the second goal of the match early on in the second half, on a ball from junior forward Allyson Anderson. Then McGinley put the game completely out of reach for the Hawks by tallying the third goal of the game in the 81st minute. Freshman goalkeeper Cristina Gacos earned her 10th shutout of the year with the win.

While the Lions’ offense exploded in the victory on Saturday, it sputtered in the defeat on Sunday, which ended the team’s season.

The Lions controlled the game as they have all year, overwhelming their opponents on the stat sheets with 18 shots to Middlebury’s three. They kept play in Middlebury’s half for the better portion of the game. But they couldn’t put the ball home.

Middlebury snuck in a goal in the 71st minute, and that would be the lone tally of the game as the College’s scoring frustrations spelled the end to its season.

“This team had so much to offer, so much heart and so much talent. We would outshoot teams 18 to three or 36 to five and lose or tie. It just wasn’t meant for us,” senior defender Nikki Migliori said. “I love all of these girls and would do anything for them. I’m sad we didn’t get what we deserved.”

“Every player worked hard every day,” Gacos said. “It’s such a shame for it to end so soon. We had so much soccer left in us to play.”

The Lions nevertheless finished the season with an impressive record of 13-4-2, won the NJAC for the third consecutive year and helped Head Coach Joe Russo reach his 400th career victory.