Rock women’s soccer end season with loss in NCAA playoffs

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On Saturday, The Rock women’s soccer team saw their season end at the hands of West Chester. The Rock (18-4-0, PSAC 14-2-0) hosted the NCAA tournament game, which was the first time they had gotten to the tournament under Coach Jessica Griggs. The Golden Rams beat The Rock 4-2 to give them their fourth and final loss of the season.

“I’m just really proud of the girls, they did a lot of incredible things for this program and it’s a special group,” Griggs said. “I’m not going to remember this game, I’m going to remember so much more from the entirety of the season.”

The Golden Rams took the lead four minutes into the game, when Jenna Peters scored off of a corner kick from Hannah Zach. The Golden Rams had back-to-back corner kicks and the Rock was forced to play catch up from the start. West Chester hopped out to a 2-0 lead when Jenny Bail beat Emma Yoder for their second goal in the first half. This was only the second time all season that the Rock allowed two goals in the first half.

The Rock answered with a goal of their own less than a minute later with freshman standout Kayla Swope chipping the ball over the Golden Ram’s goalkeeper Hayley McGee. The goal was Swope’s eighth of the season and sparked The Rock offense. The Rock evened the game before the half with Madison Johnson’s goal. Johnson, the PSAC West Defensive Athlete of the Year, had only two goals this season, but had both come against opponents from the PSAC east.

“I loved it, they’re fun and they did a lot where I got to just sit back and watch them enjoy their success and enjoy their time together,” Griggs said. “I always say it’s a coach’s dream when you can prepare them for everything and then just sit back and watch them do it, so it was a lot of fun.”

The Rock was outshot at home only three times this season and all came in their last three games. West Chester, however, beat Slippery Rock in that category by the widest margin (21-9). The Rock was unable to muster any offense in the second half, and a breakdown in defense lead to the goal that would ultimately decide the game. Zach beat The Rock defense and Yoder for her 12th goal of the season and first of the game. Zach’s second goal came in the 68th minute off an assist from Peters.

“[The seniors] are awesome, they’re special and fun, and they get it, they believe and care a lot,” Griggs said. “They’re our first recruited class, so that’s special that we got to hand pick them as our first class, and then watch them lead and take us to where they have.”

The Rock ends the season with the most wins ever in program history with 18 and with the second most goals (58), assists (51), and points (167) in a season. The Rock also claimed their first PSAC title since 2012 and their fourth overall. The loss to West Chester also marks the second home loss of the season, the first since the season opener and also the first loss on James Egli field this season.

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