Rock soccer advances in NCAA tourney

Published by adviser, Author: Nikolas Horniacek - Rocket Contributor, Date: November 16, 2012
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The Slippery Rock University women’s soccer team continued their tear through the NCAA tournament with a 1-0 victory against No. 16 California University of Pa. in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at the Philipsburg Soccer Complex.

Prior to the Cal game, the Rock escaped No. 24 Edinboro University in penalty kicks when junior goalkeeper Dana O’Neill came up big making two saves to lead the Rock into the second round.

Slippery Rock will now face West Chester University today. The winner will advance to the NCAA Elite Eight and will take on the winner of the East Region on Sunday at West Chester.

“We are peaking at the right time,” Rock head coach Noreen Herlihy said. “We are playing extremely well as a team, and we expect to go out there every game and compete with the best teams.”

The Green and White secured their first win over Cal U. in the NCAA Tournament after the Vulcans knocked them out each of the past two seasons including last year in the Sweet 16.

With their win on Sunday, the Rock,handed the Vulcans their first back-to-back home losses since 2007.

Freshman midfielder Crysta Ganter tallied the only goal, which came in the 49th minute, when she split two defenders and tapped the ball past Cal’s goalie.
Freshman forward Cailin Conner grabbed the assist.

O’Neill knabbed her 10th shutout of the season with Sunday’s performance, finishing the game with four saves, including a late save with a mere 55 seconds left.

The Vulcans finished the game with a 10-8 edge in total shots and a 4-3 edge in shots on goal, though Slippery Rock earned a 5-1 advantage in corner kicks.

The first half would end with a scoreless draw, although the Rock controlled most of the play and almost scored when Connor drilled a shot off of the crossbar, which bounced straight down. The referees determined that the ball never crossed the goal line.

It took the Rock until the fourth minute of the second half to snag the lead, and they kept the pressure up the rest of the game, only allowing one scoring opportunity which came late in the final minute.

Slippery Rock advanced to 14-5-3 with the victory.

“It’s great knocking off Cal,” senior captain Emer Flatley said. “Every year, it seems they find a way to knock us out. Not this year. It’s our time.”

The Green and White was dominant in the first game of the tournament, but the game was brought to penalty kicks to decide the victor.

SRU would close up shop for Edinboro by converting all four of their chances, winning the shootout 4-2.

Senior midfielder Shelby Ward, senior captain Emer Flatley, freshman midfielder Allison Harbart and junior defender Lauren Impey all put away their penalty kick but it was O’Neill who stole the show making two magnificent saves.

Slippery Rock finished the game with a 23-13 total shot advantage, 7-4 in shots on goal and 7-4 in corner kicks. The Rock was dominant in the second half, outshooting Edinboro 10-4.

O’Neill finished the game with three saves.

Senior forward Erin Storck tallied the first goal of the match off a pass from sophomore midfielder Lucy Hannon to give the Rock a 1-0 in the 31st minute.

It took almost no time for the Fighting Scots to tie the game, netting a goal just over a minute later.

The teams would go into halftime with SRU holding a 10-7 shot advantage and 4-2 in corner kicks.

Both teams would have their chances to capitalize in the second half and overtime, but neither could.

Junior midfielder Stephanie Buckenheimer rang the crossbar twice and missed wide by just inches with only 11 seconds to play in overtime.

The Rock would pull through in the shootout.

On Monday, the league office announced Herlihy as the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.

The Rock also had a school-record seven players named to the All-Conference team.

Hannon, PSAC tournament MVP, earned first team honors along with Flatley and O’Neill.

Ward topped the second team selections and was joined by Impey and sophomore midfielder Leslie Henny.  Junior defender
Izabel Scott rounded off the third team selections.

Herlihy, now in her 18th season at the helm of the program, earns her third PSAC Coach of the Year honor and her first since 2003. She has guided the program to 17 consecutive winning seasons with 10 or more wins, which is the eighth-best streak in Division II history.

Slippery Rock will face West Chester today at 11 a.m. The winner will be declared the Atlantic Region champion and will face off against the winner of the College of St. Rose and Dowling University with a trip to the Final Four on the line.

The Rock knocked WCU out of the PSAC tournament with a 2-1 victory on Nov. 1.

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