Valiant Effort Falls Short As Women's Soccer Bows To Messiah, 1-0

Junior Taylor Stevens and the women's soccer team dropped a 1-0 decision against 10th-ranked Messiah on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Junior Taylor Stevens and the women's soccer team dropped a 1-0 decision against 10th-ranked Messiah on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Colleen Berry Erica Licari Erin Toburen

Box score

GRANTHAM, Pa. – The University of Scranton women's soccer team spent 90 minutes fending off 10th-ranked Messiah while trying to put together a counterattack that would lift them to a second NCAA Tournament win in as many days.

Despite that courageous effort, the Royals couldn't hold off the Falcons, eventually dropping a 1-0 decision in the second-round matchup at Messiah. Scranton finishes its season at 15-4-2, the third time in the past five seasons the team has won at least 15 games.

Messiah (16-2-3) put pressure on right from the start, but the Royals dug in on defense and forced a scoreless first half despite not taking a shot. The second half started in similar fashion, but the Falcons broke through in the 67th minute when sophomore midfielder Sunny Gelnovatch found room in front of goal to get a foot on a cross and send a shot into the right corner for the only goal of the match.

The Falcons finished the match with a 24-2 advantage in shots, but the two shots that Scranton took nearly decided the game. The first came in the 57th minute when the Messiah goalkeeper came off her line to try to clear a ball that was played into the top of the box. The ball bounced directly to Royals junior midfielder Erica Licari (Saint James, N.Y./Smithtown East), who chipped a shot over the goalie's head that looked destined to nestle into the net for a 1-0 lead.

But a Messiah defender came across from the left side to clear the ball away before it found its way into the right side of the goal, keeping the game scoreless and thwarting the Royals' counterattack.

Scranton's second shot came in the 73rd minute as the Royals tried to draw even after Messiah took the lead. After the Royals got pressure down the left side, Messiah cleared the ball out of the box, but straight to Scranton freshman midfielder Erin Toburen (Harleysville, Pa./Lansdale Catholic).

Toburen squared up from about 35 yards out and fired a shot on goal that hit the crossbar almost square and bounced out of play for a goal kick. It was the last good chance the Royals would have despite getting possession deep in Messiah's end with about five minutes left.

Junior goalkeeper Colleen Berry (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) was outstanding for the second straight day. Twenty-four hours after making 12 saves in a 2-0 win over 25th-ranked Rowan in a first-round win, she made nine saves on Sunday, including a leaping save just 77 seconds into the match that was one of her best of the season.

Berry finishes the season, her first as a starter, having allowed just 14 goals in 21 matches with a 0.64 goals-against average. She made 110 saves for an .887 save percentage. Her 13 shutouts are tied for fourth-most in a single season in program history, her 110 saves are fifth, her .887 save percentage is tied for fifth and her 0.64 goals-against average is eighth-best.

The Royals were playing in the NCAA Tournament second round for the first time since 2010 and the seventh time in program history. It was the third time Scranton has met Messiah in the NCAA Tournament, with the Falcons winning twice and Scranton advancing on penalty kicks after a draw in the other matchup.

Sunday's defeat was the final game for six Scranton seniors – defenders Katie Cullen (Malverne, N.Y./Sacred Heart Academy), Meredith D'Angelo (Hatboro, Pa./Gwynedd Mercy Academy) and Hannah DeMars (Cranford, N.J./Cranford), midfielder Casey Trezza (New Providence, N.J./New Providence), and forwards Kelly Pompey (South Abington Township, Pa./Scranton Prep) and Samantha Wargo (Kings Park, N.Y./St. Anthony's). They finish their careers after having been a part of two Landmark Conference championships (2016, 2017), two Landmark Conference runner-up teams (2014, 2015), two NCAA Tournament teams (2016, 2017) and 55 total victories in four seasons.