Scranton Claims Second Straight Landmark Conference Title With 2-0 Victory Over Catholic
|Rebecca Hextall||Sarah Gibbons|
|Sydney Parker||Samantha Russo|
The University of Scranton women’s soccer team struck
early and late to claim its second straight Landmark Conference
championship with a 2-0 victory over Catholic University on a
stunning November afternoon at Fitzpatrick Field on Saturday.
The Royals received goals from sophomore forward Rebecca Hextall (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Marymount) in the fourth minute and junior midfielder Sarah Gibbons (Monroe Township, N.J./Monroe Township) in the 86th minute to secure the title.
The victory gave the Royals (13-3-3) their 18th conference championship, including three in five years in the Landmark Conference. It also earns Scranton an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament, marking the school’s 13th appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The Royals wasted little time jumping out to an early lead as junior midfielder Sydney Parker (Randolph, N.J./Randolph) fed Hextall on the right wing, and her shot from seven yards out was partially blocked by the Catholic goalkeeper, but had just enough steam to trickle across the goal line for a 1-0 lead 3:19 into the game.
The remainder of the first half settled into a battle for possession as the teams managed only two shots apiece in the opening 45 minutes. The Royals had a pair of chances early in the second half, but shots by freshman midfielder Katie O’Hanlon (Rockville Centre, N.Y./Sacred Heart Academy) were off the mark.
Scranton kept the pressure on, but Catholic’s defense was up to the task, forcing seven offsides calls on the Royals in the game. The continued offensive push finally paid off at the 85:59 mark when sophomore forward Samantha Russo (Yorktown Heights, N.Y./Yorktown) reversed direction at the top of the box and found Gibbons alone on the left wing. She took two dribbles before her shot from six yards out sailed cleanly past the Catholic keeper for the insurance goal.
Hextall’s goal was her seventh of the season and fourth in the last three games. Gibbons tallied her eighth goal of the season, tying Russo for the team lead. Parker’s assist was her team-leading eighth while Russo earned her fifth helper of the season.
Scranton held Catholic (12-7) to just five shots in the game. Sophomore goalie Kelsey McAnelly (West Chster, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) was tested just twice, making saves both times. The win was the ninth shutout victory of the season and third in a row for the Royals.
The victory was also Scranton’s third straight over Catholic and tied the all-time series between the schools at four wins apiece.
Scranton will find out its NCAA Tournament opponent, location, game time and date on Monday.