By Nick Granados
The East Stroudsburg University Women’s Soccer Team’s historic 2014 season came to an early end after the Warriors were eliminated in penalty kicks by West Virginia Wesleyan in the second round of the NCAA DII Women’s Soccer Tournament.
The Warriors, who were the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Division and regional host, and Bobcats had many chances throughout the game.
ESU’s best scoring chance coming late in the second overtime when Amanda Vojta’s free kick from 25 yards out sailed just over the crossbar.
Many of the balls that ESU sent up the field, which had been a big part of their offense this season, were easily answered by WV Wesleyan defenders who stifled many of ESU’s opportunities before they could get the ball on goal.
“A lot of credit to them. What we do well, they countered,” said ESU head coach Rob Berkowitz. “We just could never get anything going.”
The Warriors did manage to get 7 shots on goal but were not able to capitalize, in part because of the Bobcats’ stingy defense.
“They’re as good a back four and defensive team as we’ve played this year,” said Berkowitz. “We really didn’t have a good, clean chance all day.”
After a scoreless tie at the end of regulation and two scoreless overtime periods, the two teams headed to penalty kicks to decide a winner.
In the penalty shootout, Hannah Gombos and Sammi Jo Hughes both had their kicks saved by Wesleyan goalkeeper Lauren Duncan, and Wesleyan converted all four of their kicks to win the game and send the Bobcats to Friday’s Atlantic Regional Final against West Chester.
As for the Warriors, this brings an end to a historical season that saw the Warriors go on a 20-game unbeaten streak.
The streak began after a 1-0 loss to Kutztown in their opening match and included the Warriors avenging the loss to the Golden Bears with a 1-0 win in the PSAC Championship game.
“It certainly is a disappointing way to end the season,” Berkowitz said after the game. “The team fought from beginning to end, first game to last game, so we’re proud of what we did.”
The Warriors set multiple school records and historical marks, aside from their unprecedented winning streak. Their .932 winning percentage is the highest in ESU history.
The Warriors were ranked no. 2 in the country. That is the highest ranking in school history. Coach Rob Berkowitz was also named PSAC Coach of the Year as well.
Although Berkowitz was not yet looking towards the future, he did shed some light on what the team will look like in 2015.
The Warriors are losing seniors Lauren Buchanan-Dwyer, Lexie Peveraro, Courtney Keller, Kelly Clark, and Erika Wilt. “I haven’t really thought about [next season] yet,” he said. “Those kids will be missed tremendously.” Berkowitz continued, “They were kind of the ‘glue’ that kept us together. When things got difficult in games, they were always the ones that lifted the team up.”
He also acknowledged the talents of the underclassmen that will be returning next season, including All-PSAC First Team midfielder Shea Neal. “From a talent standpoint, we’ll bring back a lot of quality, and we have some kids who didn’t play that much that will next year.”
The Warriors’ 2014 season may be over, but it is one that will certainly be talked about for years to come.
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