NEWARK—William Paterson University had the final 10 shots of the game, scoring twice in the final 7:51 of the second half, including the winner with just 33 seconds remaining as the Pioneers rallied to steal a 2-1 victory from New Jersey City University in an Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Metro Semifinal contest played in the rain on Saturday night at New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Lubetkin Field.
Third-seeded NJCU, which had a 15-6 advantage in shots and had dominated the game for the first 71 minutes, sees its greatest season in school history ends in the ECAC Semifinals with a 13-9 record.
William Paterson (12-7-3), the No. 2 seed, advances to the ECAC Final on Sunday, November 15 at 2 p.m. against top-seeded and host New York University. WPU leads the all-time series over NJCU, 14-1, with the Gothic Knights prevailing in the regular-season meeting between these New Jersey Athletic Conference foes, 3-1, on October 14.
Sophomore midfielder KATLIN VARGO (Edison, NJ/Union Catholic) had given NJCU a 1-0 lead at 19:52 of a first half in which the Gothic Knights missed several other quality scoring chances. Vargo drilled a free kick from 30 yards out on the near sideline into the upper left corner. It was her 14th goal of the year and eighth unassisted marker. She had seven of NJCU’s 15 shots.
WPU tied it with 7:51 remaining when junior midfielder Kathleen Maggi (Mew Milford, NJ/New Milford) headed in a bouncing free kick from junior defender Ali Ruddy (Wayne, NJ/Wayne Valley). The goal was Maggi’s second of the year and fourth assist for Ruddy.
The Pioneers won it with 33 seconds remaining when freshman forward Michelle Marabondo (Kenvil, NJ/Roxbury) banged home a shot from five feet out after a cross by freshman midfielder Laela Brock (Paramus, NJ/Paramus) from the right wing. It was her eighth goal of the year and fourth game-winner. Brock collected her fourth assist.
Freshman keeper CATHERINE HENSLEY (Dripping Springs, TX/Dripping Springs) made six saves, including five in the second half when she thwarted several solid late opportunities by the Pioneers. WPU received three saves from senior keeper Meaghan Baker (Rockaway, NJ/Morris Knolls) and added one team save.
NJCU senior stopper JESSICA IRIZARRY (Perth Amboy, NJ/Perth Amboy), the lone senior on the young Gothic Knight squad, tied current assistant coach Katie Feehan’s career record by playing in her 73rd game.
NJCU nearly took a 1-0 lead just 9:36 into the game when freshman midfielder ASHLEY CUNHA (Edison, NJ/Edison) threaded a pass to freshman forward GABRIELLE CLARKE (Edison, NJ/J.P. Stevens)—making just her second career start—setting up a breakaway opportunity. With only a charging Baker between her and the net, Clarke rifled a shot from just inside the top of the box off the right post.
After Vargo scored on the free kick in the 20th minute, NJCU, which had a 7-4 advantage in first half shots, continued to apply pressure.
At 33:40, Cunha just missed a solid chance wide right. Sophomore forward JULIA CASERES (Union, NJ/Union), who had four shots, had a look at an open net at 40:09, but her attempt was blocked, and Vargo’s attempt to put home the rebound 11 seconds later was cleared away by the WPU defense as the Knights led 1-0 at the half.
NJCU attempted eight of the first 10 second half shots, including five in the first 5:36 of action Baker made a stop on a solid scoring chance by Clarke at 62:28.
WPU nearly tied it at 64:41 but sophomore forward Megan Droelle (Hampton, NJ/North Hunterdon) hit the post. Baker kept her team in the game with a stop of a Vargo shot at 68:47.
Hensley kept WPU off the scoreboard with a save of a header by junior midfielder Drea Wagoner (Little Falls, NJ/Passaic Valley) with 17:53 left and smothered two more shots by Wagoner and Marabondo in the 77th and 78th minutes before Maggi deflected Ruddy’s free kick into the net at 82:09 to even the game at 1-1 and Marabondo netted the game-winner at 89:27. NJCU was 33 seconds shy of going to overtime for the first time this season.
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