Women’s Soccer Team Repeats as PSAC Champs

Pickett’s Charge Keys OT Victory

By Ronald Hanaki

Sports Editor

ESU’s women’s soccer team beat the Edinboro Fighting Scots 2-1 in overtime to win their second consecutive PSAC championship last Sunday at Gannon University.

Junior midfielder and two-time PSAC Women’s Soccer Athlete of the Week Shea Neal scored the winning goal in overtime to give the Warriors back-to-back PSAC titles.

Neal, ESU sophomore midfielder Sammi Ortiz and junior back Laurel Neira were also recently named to the All-PSAC women’s soccer second team.

On paper, the No. 7-ranked Warriors came into the championship game as the underdogs

against the No. 4-ranked Fighting Scots; however, ESU beat No. 1 Gannon, No. 2 West Chester and No. 3 Slippery Rock in consecutive games to reach the title game.

At this point, the team was probably playing its best soccer of the season.

Back on Oct. 24, the Fighting Scots dealt the Warriors a tough loss.

The game was tied 1-1, but ESU gave up a late goal and lost 2-1.

The PSAC title game gave the Warriors a chance for revenge.

The rematch played out very similarly to the first game.

Just 15 minutes into the first half, Edinboro junior Shannon Regan drew first blood.

Regan beat ESU sophomore goalkeeper Jules Harris to give Edinboro an early 1-0 lead.

It was the first goal of the season for Regan.

It took almost as long for the Warriors to get the equalizer. At the 30:20 mark, ESU junior forward Brielyn Hackett’s shot on goal was initially saved by Edinboro sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Baskey.

The ball came out, and ESU freshman forward Alex Pickett was there to put it in the back of the net off the rebound.

The game was tied 1-1 at the first intermission.

Statistics at intermission were almost dead even.

ESU had eight shots; Edinboro had seven shots.

The Warriors had four shots on goal; the Fighting Scots also had four shots on goal.

ESU had two corner kicks in the first half; Edinboro had three corner kicks in the first half.

The second half was more of the same from the two evenly matched teams.

Neither side could break the stalemate.

The Warriors had nine shots in the second half, but the Fighting Scots had ten shots.

Both goalkeepers made two saves apiece and refused to give an inch in the second half. The game was destined to go into overtime.

The Fighting Scots were clearly the aggressors in overtime.

For most of the overtime, the action took place in ESU’s half of the field. Edinboro’s best chance to score came nearly four minutes into overtime.

Edinboro junior forward Nicole Chabot had an open look at goal, but ESU’s defense somehow managed to block her shot.

What happened next seemed to take place in the blink of an eye.

Despite playing defense for most of the overtime, the Warriors seemed to flip a switch, making a seamless transition from defense to offense.

With two minutes left in the first overtime, ESU’s Pickett led the charge and passed the ball down the field to Neal, who found herself alone on a one-on-one breakaway against Edinboro’s Baskey. Could this be it?

The woman with the golden boot shot the ball inside the left post and out of the reach of Baskey for the golden goal.

The game was over, and ESU’s sideline erupted in celebration of their second consecutive PSAC title.

To paraphrase the young sage Taylor Swift, ESU and championship soccer never go out of style.

As PSAC champions, the Warriors received an automatic berth to play in the NCAA Division II Tournament.

On Monday evening, it was announced that ESU would travel to West Virginia tomorrow to play West Chester in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Email Ronald at: rhanaki@live.esu.edu