November 14, 2010

Wheaton and Eastern battle to double-overtime draw before Warriors advance on penalty kicks

MANSFIELD, Conn. - The regionally-ranked Wheaton College women's soccer team and nationally-ranked Eastern Connecticut State University battled to a double-overtime scoreless draw in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday before the host Warriors advanced on penalty kicks by a 4-2 count at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.

Making their 11th straight appearance in an NCAA Tournament, the Lyons, who entered today ranked sixth in New England by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), finish their season at 17-4-3.  Ranked 14th nationally and tied for second in the region, Eastern remains unbeaten at 16-0-5 and advances to next weekend's sectional round for the first time in history.

During penalty kicks, Wheaton used Emily Hough (Norwich, Vt./Hanover) in goal after the senior played in the field at the back and forward positions.  The hosts went 4-for-4 on kicks, with junior Jo-Ann Merheb (Bethel, Conn./Bethel) converting the deciding third shot.  The Lyons made two of their four attempts, with senior Alessia Viscomi (Newton, Mass./Newton North) and sophomore Cassey Muse (Candia, N.H./Central) each converting.  Eastern junior keeper Theresa Pagnozzi (Waterford, Conn./Waterford) recorded two stops during penalty kicks and five in 110 minutes of game action.

After going virtually untested during yesterday's first-round game against Mitchell College, Wheaton junior goalie Erin Cawley (West Springfield, Mass./West Springfield) had a career day, denying multiple Warrior opportunities over the course of the afternoon while finishing with a career-best 11 saves.  Cawley thwarted an early threat not even five minutes in when she stopped Merheb deep on the left side of the box.

Wheaton's best chance of the first half came with 25 minutes to go when Hough got behind the Warrior defense to set up a one-on-one opportunity with Pagnozzi, but Pagnozzi turned back Hough's shot to keep the game scoreless.  The hosts immediately responded with their third corner of the game, but the Lyon defense was again up for the task, this time with Viscomi clearing the ball out of harm's way for a team save.  With just over a minute to play in the stanza, Cawley came up with another huge stop, as her sliding kick save took away a golden chance from sophomore Taylor Buchanan (Ellington, Conn./Ellington).

In the second half, the Warriors took the frame's first four shots before the Lyons put forward their initial threat of the stanza with a corner kick and eventual Hough shot that carried to the right of the frame.  Cawley continued her outstanding game with back-to-back saves to preserve the shutout. 

After a Hough shot that was saved with under 20 minutes to go in regulation, Warrior senior Megan Pavia (Stamford, Conn./AITE) blasted a shot from the doorstep that sailed over the crossbar.  With 12 minutes to go, Viscomi sent a free kick into the box, where freshman Nicole Sherman (Wilton, Conn./Wilton) turned and fired a shot into Pagnozzi.

The best chance from either side in the first extra session came in the final minute on an Eastern free kick from the left side, as freshman Nicole Leonard (Rutherford, N.J./Rutherford) ended up with the ball on the far post, but her shot from point-blank range with time ticking down was denied by Cawley.

The Warriors finished the game with advantages of 17-11 in shots and 7-2 on corners.

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