SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The fourth-seeded Wheaton College women's soccer team's bid to reach its 11th New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament title game in the last 12 seasons fell short Saturday afternoon, as the Lyons suffered a 2-1 setback to top seed Springfield College during the day's first semifinal game at Brock-Affleck Field.
Ranked in a tie for sixth regionally by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), 16-4-2 Wheaton had its five-game shutout streak come to an end. Falling to the Pride for the fifth straight time, the Lyons will await Monday's NCAA Tournament selection show with hopes of landing an at-large bid. Wheaton has qualified for the last 10 NCAA Tournaments. Tied for fourth in New England, Springfield advances to Sunday's title game.
The Lyons broke the stalemate nearly 32 minutes into the opening half, when a corner kick from freshman Rebecca Raymond (Lowell, Mass./Lowell) deflected off a Springfield defender and into the back of the net. During the Blue and White's 2-1 loss at Springfield on October 16, the Pride had both of its tallies come on own goals.
Sophomore Cassey Muse (Candia, N.H./Central) nearly made it a 1-0 game in Wheaton's favor approaching the midway point of the first stanza, but her shot smacked a post in keeping the game scoreless. Clinging to the one-goal lead entering the break, the visitors took five of the opening half's six corner kicks.
Springfield knotted the game 4:59 into the second stanza, as an opponent scored on Lyon junior goalie Erin Cawley (West Springfield, Mass./West Springfield) for the first time in nearly 550 minutes. Wheaton had a great chance to retake the lead with a little more than 12 minutes remaining, but Raymond's shot was denied by Pride sophomore keeper Erin Greenstein (Framingham, Mass./Framingham), whose save ricocheted off the crossbar and then a post before she gained possession to end the threat.
The Pride's winner came with 44 seconds on the clock, as junior Katie Mantie's (Wallingford, Conn./Lyman Hall) header proved to be the difference. Springfield finished with a 13-12 edge in shots despite the Lyons taking seven of the second half's 12 attempts. Cawley made six saves in just her second loss of the fall, while Greenstein was credited with seven stops.