November 7, 2009

Wheaton's quest for eighth NEWMAC Tournament title falls short in semifinal round

WELLESLEY, MA- The second-seeded Wheaton College women's soccer team was denied entrance into its 11th consecutive New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament final on Saturday, as the Lyons dropped a 1-0 decision to third seed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) during the semifinal round at Wellesley College.

Entering the game ranked 25th in the country and fourth in New England by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), Wheaton's NCAA Tournament hopes now are reliant on an at-large berth.  Falling to 17-3-2, the Lyons had their seven-game unbeaten streak snapped, while MIT improved to 11-5-2 and will face defending champion Springfield College in tomorrow's final at 1:00 p.m.

Wheaton dominated play with advantages of 32-10 in shots and 9-1 in corner kicks, but it was the Engineers' 20th-minute goal that proved to be the difference, as the Lyons were blanked during a loss for just the second time this fall.  Sophomore goalkeeper Lindsay Leddy (Warwick, RI/Wheeler School) was credited with five stops in the setback.

MIT sophomore Alisha Lussiez (Livonia, MI/Churchill) posted the game-winning goal 19:54 into the first half, with freshman Emily Kuo (Chicago, IL/University of Chicago Laboratory Schools) assisting, while classmate Meghan Wright (Devon, PA/Conestoga) made 11 saves in recording the shutout.

The Lyons notched three of the game's first four shots, but it was Kuo's blocked attempt at 19:49 that enabled Lussiez to knock home the winner.  Wheaton took 12 of the half's final 15 shots, including a stretch of seven straight over 7:12, but was unable to find the equalizer.  Included in that span were three corners within 1:20 of each other, but all went for naught.

Wheaton continued to apply offensive pressure in the second stanza, firing off 15 of the frame's initial 16 shots while attempting six corners by the 83:45 mark.  Kuo nearly extended MIT's lead after twice smacking the post just 1:57 apart, and two more Wright saves down the stretch, including the final one with seven ticks on the clock, assured the Engineers the victory.

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