GRANTHAM, Pa. – The University of Scranton women's soccer struck quickly and then dug in on defense to knock off 25th-ranked Rowan, 2-0, in an NCAA Tournament first-round match on Saturday at Messiah College.
The win puts Scranton (15-3-2) into Sunday's second-round match against the host and 10th-ranked Messiah at 1:30 p.m. It's the first time since 2010 the Royals have advanced to the second round and the seventh time in program history.
Entering Saturday's match, it seemed as if goals might be hard to come by for the Royals. Rowan (12-3-3) entered the NCAA Tournament having allowed just five goals the entire season, including just one game in which the Profs allowed multiple goals. But it took just 12 minutes and 55 seconds for the Royals to put a two-spot on the scoreboard.
The first goal came at the 11:34 mark when junior midfielder Brittany Uricchio (Glastonbury, Conn./Glastonbury) pounced on a loose ball in the middle of the box and sent a left-footed volley into the net for her fourth goal of the season. Fellow junior midfielder Taylor Stevens (Yardley, Pa./Villa Joseph Marie) earned her ninth assist of the season for her perfect cross into the box.
Scranton doubled its lead at 12:55 when senior forward Kelly Pompey (South Abington Twp., Pa./Scranton Prep) got on the end of a cross by freshman midfielder Mazie Stiles (Nyack, N.Y./Albertus Magnus) and volleyed it home for her seventh goal of the season. Stiles picked her sixth assist of the season for the perfect cross over the keeper's outstretched arm to the back post, where Pompey was streaking in for the insurance goal.
From there, the Royals dug in on defense like perhaps never before. Scranton would take just one more shot the rest of the way while Rowan fired 18 shots over the final 77 minutes, but not a single one found the back of the next. Junior goalkeeper Colleen Berry (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) finished the match with 12 saves, one shy of equaling her career high, while posting her 13th shutout of the season. She made perhaps the most crucial play of the match – outside of Scranton's two goals – in the 51st minute when she dove to her left to make a sensational save, then scrambled to her knees to make a save on a shot off the rebound.
Scranton held on from there despite being outshot 20-3 for the game. Rowan also held a 13-4 edge in corner kicks.
Sunday's second-round matchup with Messiah will mark the third time the Royals and Falcons have met in the NCAA Tournament. In 2000, Messiah scored a 1-0 win in the second round. A year later, also in the second round, the teams battled to a 0-0 draw before Scranton advanced on penalty kicks, 5-4. Current Royals head coach Colleen Pivirotto was a defensive midfielder on both of those Scranton squads.
Messiah advanced to the second round with a 4-0 win over Westfield State in Saturday's other first-round match.
Tickets for Sunday's second-round match are $6 for general admission and $3 for seniors, students and children. Live stats and live video are both available at http://www.gomessiah.tv/.
For more information, visit http://gomessiah.com/sports/2017/11/6/FHWSOCTourney.aspx.