|Kelly Egan||Colleen Pivirotto||Carolyn Warner|
|Taylor Stevens||Krissy Welsh|
Junior midfielder Kelly Egan (Essex Fells, N.J./West Essex) delivered one of the most dramatic goals in recent University of Scranton women's soccer history on Wednesday evening at Fitzpatrick Field. By playing the hero for the second time in four days, she punched the Royals' ticket to the Landmark Conference championship.
Egan's goal with 1:40 left in double overtime gave Scranton a 1-0 victory over Elizabethtown in a Landmark Conference semifinal. The second-seeded Royals advance to Saturday's championship match against top-seeded Catholic in Washington, D.C. at 1 p.m.
The stunning goal was set up by two great passes by freshman midfielder Taylor Stevens (Yardley, Pa./Villa Joseph Marie) and junior defender Carolyn Warner (Morris Plains, N.J./Parsippany Hills). A foul on Elizabethtown gave the Royals a free kick just inside midfield, and Stevens took advantage by delivering a beautiful ball just short of the left post. Warner was there and perfectly volleyed the ball across the front of the goal where Egan was waiting, and she tucked her shot inside the right post to set up a wild celebration that saw the entire team celebrate with the student section along the sideline.
The play came less than a minute after the Royals had three shots right in front of the goal, but could not convert. Stevens and Egan had the first two, but Elizabethtown senior goalkeeper Dana Robidoux (Kennet Square, Pa./Unionville) made tremendous saves on both and was able to pop back to her feet to force the third shot to sail high from Royals senior forward Sarah Andrews (Mountain Top, Pa./Crestwood).
But it was just 40 seconds later when Stevens, Warner and Egan combined to give the Royals the win. The win came four days after Egan scored in overtime to give Scranton a 1-0 win in the regular season finale at Elizabethtown. It also marks the third straight time the Royals have beaten the Blue Jays in extra time. They also posted a 2-1 victory at Elizabethtown in a Landmark Conference semifinal last season.
The thrilling victory was also a milestone for head coach Colleen Pivirotto, who picked up her 100th career victory. In seven-plus seasons, she has a career record of 100-42-8. The 13 victories this season mark the fifth time in her eight seasons that the Royals have won at least 13 games. This is the sixth straight season she has led the Royals to the Landmark Conference championship, where they will be seeking their fifth title.
Despite the 0-0 score for more than 108 minutes, the game included some action throughout. The Blue Jays held a 4-2 edge in shots in the first half, but Scranton nearly took the lead in the 19th minute when Royals senior forward Gianna Vitolo (Denville, N.J./Morris Knolls) got free on the right side of the box, but her shot clanged off the crossbar.
Elizabethtown had its near miss in the 80th minute when a shot hit the crossbar in nearly the same spot as Vitolo's on the same end of the field. Each team finished the second half with four shots apiece, but there was just one save in the first 90 minutes, that coming in the 83rd minute when Scranton junior goalkeeper corralled a shot from outside 20 yards.
Welsh made a pair of saves in the first overtime, including one on a header from about five yards out when she was in perfect position. She finished with three saves in the match for her 11th shutout of the season and 16th of her career.
Egan now has seven goals and six assists for 20 points this season. Her seven goals are tied for third-best in the conference, and six of her goals have been game-winners. For her career, she has 11 goals and 16 assists for 38 points.
Stevens picked up the fourth assists of her career while Warner collected her second assist of the season and third of her career.