MADISON, N.J. – The University of Scranton women's soccer team kept its composure after a back-and-forth start and went on to pick up a key Landmark Conference victory by defeating Drew University, 4-2, on Saturday afternoon at Ranger Stadium.
The victory clinches a playoff spot and moves Scranton (14-2-1, 4-0-1 Landmark) past Drew (13-2, 4-1 Landmark) and into first place in the conference. The Royals have one more conference match remaining – Saturday, Nov. 2, at home against Catholic – and can secure the top seed in the upcoming playoffs with a victory in that match.
The Royals received a goal and an assist from junior midfielder Ellen Walker (Bethlehem, Pa./Liberty) and goals from senior forward Samantha Russo (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown), junior midfielder Andrea Ricketti (Hamilton, N.J./The Pennington School) and freshman forward Kelsey Bacon (Macungie, Pa./Emmaus).
Scranton jumped out to a quick lead when Russo scored her ninth goal of the season when she took a pass from freshman midfielder Kelly Egan (Essex Falls, N.J./West Essex) and lifted a shot over the Drew goalkeeper in the 11th minute.
Russo now has 31 career goals, 10th most in school history. She has 85 career points, also 10th most in Scranton history.
Less than three minutes later, Ricketti scored from 23 yards out after taking a pass from sophomore forward Gianna Vitolo (Denville, N.J./Morris Knolls) for her first goal of her career.
But as quickly as Scranton took a two-goal lead, Drew needed less time to tie the match. Senior midfielder Liz Loiodice (Forrest, Md./John Carroll) scored both goals, getting free behind the defense at the 16:54 mark, then scoring on a direct kick just 40 seconds later.
The momentum swung back to the Royals just before the halftime horn as Bacon headed in a free kick from Walker for her team-leading 10th goal of the season at the 45-minute mark.
Scranton clamped down on defense in the second half and found the insurance goal when Walker converted a free kick from just outside the top of the penalty box. The goal was her second of the season.
The Royals held a 15-4 advantage in shots and 6-0 in corner kicks. Freshman forward Christina Akalaski (Long Beach, N.Y./Kellenberg Memorial) led Scranton with four shots. Senior goalkeeper Kelsy McAnelly (West Chester, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) made two saves for her 12th win of the season and 36th of her career.
The victory extends Scranton's unbeaten streak to 15 straight matches. They have not lost since a pair of losses to open the season. It also extends the Royals' unbeaten streak in conference play to 29, a span that extends back to the 2009 season. They are 26-0-3 during that span.
The Royals will wrap up regular season play when they host Catholic University on Senior Day on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 1 p.m. at Fitzpatrick Field.