Lions claim NJAC in shootout with perfect penalties

Women’s soccer celebrates its seventh NJAC title in nine years. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk.)

Throughout the entire season, the women’s soccer team has played each and every game with full heart and pure force. All of this paid off this past week as the Lions won the New Jersey Athletic Conference title for the seventh time in nine years, defeating Rowan University in the semifinals and Montclair State University in the championship game.

The Lions had to first overcome Rowan on Wednesday, Nov. 6, which proved no easy feat, seeing as the College had just been defeated by them the previous week.  However, it was clear the Lions came out for revenge and snatched back bragging rights with a 1-0 victory.

While there was remarkable defense played by both teams, the Profs fell victim to the only goal of the game. With 8:57 left in the second half of the game, freshman forward Christine Levering fired a shot into the goal and gave the Lions the eventual winning score line, 1-0. Levering has been a vital member of the team this year, as she has scored a total of five game-winning goals. As a freshman, Levering has a promising future on the team.

The College’s defense, which has been one of the most dynamic assets of the team this year, was definitely on par for the game. The unit allowed only six shots on goal. Working with the offense, the defense allowed the team to inch up higher in the ranks and score goals.

Senior goalkeeper Kendra Griffith gained her sixth shutout of the season.

The next game the Lions played was crucial. Taking on Montclair State University in the final would be difficult, as the Lions did not have the best record against them — Montclair gave them one of their only losses earlier this season. However, the Lions were determined to hold them off this time, and did so valiantly.

The game ended in a 0-0 tie that was ultimately overcome by the College on penalty kicks. With both teams playing their best defense this season has seen, it was crucial when it came to the penalty kicks to come out ahead.

The Red Hawks missed their first shot, but junior defender Jordan Downs converted hers. After their opponents did get their second shot, the Lions took the lead back when sophomore midfield Shannon White put the Lions ahead 2-1 in the penalty kicks.

Senior defender Lauren Giles and sophomore midfield Taylor Lusardi also netted their kicks, putting the College up 4-2. Griffith made some incredible saves for the Lions, finishing overtime play with seven saves.

During the course of postseason play, many players stood out on the Lions, stepping up to the task before them.  However, two were recognized by the New Jersey Athletic Conference in its postseason honors.

Defensive player of the year went to Downs and Rookie of the Year was awarded to Levering. All year long, these teammates have led the Lions on the field, constantly stepping up in every game.  They will continue to propel the team into the next tournament, which looks to be an exciting game this week.

The Lions next host Penn State — Berks in the Soccer Complex in the NCAA championships on Saturday, Nov. 16.