By Ronald Hanaki
Editor’s Note: The video of the penalty kicks can be found here.
After a scoreless game in double-overtime, ESU defeated the West Virginia Wesleyan University Bobcats 4-3 in penalty kicks to advance to the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional Final. The Warriors will play archrival West Chester University at Mercy College at 11 a.m. tomorrow morning.
Both teams featured outstanding defensive lines, so there were not going to be many scoring chances for either team. Nevertheless, the Warriors were exemplary in outshooting the Bobcats 14-3 and holding an 8-1 edge in corner kicks.
The Warriors did not give up many scoring opportunities, and senior goalkeeper Jules Harris was only called on to make two saves.
WV Wesleyan sophomore goalkeeper Ashlee Schumacher started and played the entire first half. But after halftime, WV Wesleyan Head Coach Patrick Holguin decided to make a substitution. Sophomore goalkeeper Chelsea Hubner started the second half and played the rest of the game for the Bobcats.
After a scoreless tie in double-overtime, penalty kicks would decide the winner of the contest.
The Warriors found themselves behind after the first round of penalty kicks. The Bobcats converted on their first penalty kick, but ESU junior back Danielle Curran’s penalty kick was saved by Hubner.
However, WV Wesleyan sophomore midfielder Shannon Shawgo missed her kick, and ESU sophomore back Hannah Saggese converted her chance to level the penalty kicks at 1-1 after the first two rounds.
Next, WV Wesleyan freshman forward Carolyn Saulle found the back of the net, but junior forward Alex Pickett’s attempt was saved by Hubner. The Bobcats led the Warriors 2-1 in penalty kicks after three rounds.
The fourth round saw the players for both teams convert their penalty kicks. The tension was high as the score was now 3-2 after four rounds.
Harris knew that she had to stop WV Wesleyan sophomore back Marissa Zetty, or ESU’s season would be over. With everything on the line, Harris made the crucial save.
Then senior midfielder Sammi Ortiz made her penalty kick in the bottom of the fifth round to level the penalty kicks 3-3 and force a sixth and decisive frame.
In the sixth round, WV Wesleyan junior midfielder Isabella Salas’s kick went high. That left sophomore forward Jules Sicker to make the final and winning kick for the Warriors, which she did.
ESU will play West Chester (16-3-2, 10-1-2) at 11 a.m. tomorrow morning at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. The Golden Rams are PSAC regular season champions. ESU (15-3-4, 11-3-2) and West Chester have split their two prior meetings this season. The Golden Rams beat the Warriors 1-0 on Aug. 31, but ESU beat West Chester 1-0 in the PSAC Championship Game on Nov. 4.
The winner of the ESU / West Chester game will play the winner of the game pitting Mercy College and LIU Post on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the NCAA DII Quarterfinal game.
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