|Amanda Steinberg||Hope Drewes||Claire Sites|
ADA, Ohio – The University of Scranton women's soccer team (11-5-4) advanced on penalty kicks against No. 10 Centre (21-0-1) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Ohio Northern University in Ada.
The two teams played to a two all draw through 110 minutes and the Royals won the penalty kick shootout by a 5-4 count to advance to the second round against host Ohio Northern on Sunday afternoon. Start time is slated for 1 p.m. and the winner of Sunday's game will advance to the Sweet 16 at a site to be determined.
Ohio Northern defeated Grove City by a 2-0 score in the first game of the day.
This marks the third consecutive year that the Royals have advanced to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament, as well.
Each team converted the penalty kick attempt through the first three rounds before sophomore Amanda Steinberg (Ronkonkoma, N.Y./Sachem North) made a diving save on an attempt from the Colonels' Gracie Fitzgerald. Sophomore Grace Elliott (Westfield, N.J./Westfield) made her attempt to give the Royals the edge heading into the fifth and final round and classmate Steph Lowrey (Bridgewater, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan) buried the final attempt to seal the win after Centre's Taylor Gebhart had tied things up momentarily.
Centre had previously been the only unbeaten and untied team in all of Division III. The Colonels had allowed just five goals all season before giving up a pair to the Royals on Saturday.
Scranton had a chance in the early stages of the first half, but a shot from freshman Teresa Hegarty (Bryn Mawr, Pa./Merion Mercy Academy) rolled just wide in the second minute. The Royals controlled play for much of the opening 45 minutes and broke through in the 41st minute as freshman Claire Sites (Collegeville, Pa./Spring-Ford Area) rose for a header after a scrum in the box and beat Centre goalie Jonelle Baron to make it a 1-0 game. Sites' goal came following a corner kick and consecutive chances from Sites and senior Rebecca Russo (South Windsor, Conn./South Windsor) that had both been cleared away by defenders. Head coach Colleen Pivirotto's squad held a 7-1 shot advantage in the first half.
Russo nearly extended the lead following a corner kick in the 60th minute, but a Centre defender was able to keep it out of the net. Centre began to mount some offensive pressure over the next 20 minutes and a shot from Fitzgerald was cleared off the goal line by junior Shae Guilfoyle (West Nyack, N.Y./Pearl River) in the 83rd minute before the Colonels' Brooke Smithson gathered the rebound and tied the game at one apiece. Sarah Sirkin gave Centre the lead on a feed from Alana Hughes with 2:47 left in regulation, but the Royals answered 36 seconds later as junior Mazie Stiles (Nyack, N.Y./Albertus Magnus) sent a beautiful corner into the box and sophomore Hope Drewes (Yardley, Pa./Pennsbury) headed it home to knot things at two apiece.
Steinberg made a trio of key saves in the second overtime period to extend the game to penalty kicks.
The Colonels held a slight 17-13 edge in shots and four different players had two shots apiece to pace the Royals. Steinberg tallied six saves in net for Scranton, while Baron had one save for Centre.
The University of Scranton women's soccer team will play No. 17 Ohio Northern in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. Check back to athletics.scranton.edu for video and live stats links.