NJCU, SUNY Brockport Women’s Soccer Tie In ECAC Quarterfinal

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JERSEY CITY–In the Quarterfinals of the 2010 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Metro/Upstate Women’s Soccer championship #4 seeded New Jersey City University and SUNY Brockport played 110 minutes without a decision, before the fifth seeded Golden Eagles advanced to the semifinal round by virtue of a 5-3 advantage in a shootout, on Wednesday at NJCU’s Robert L. McNulty Memorial Soccer Field. The game officially ends in a tie.

NJCU, which reached the ECAC semifinals last year, does not advance and has its winningest season in program history end with a 14-7-1 record. It was only the seventh tie in the 18-year history of the program, the first draw since September 11, 2004, and the first time the Gothic Knights have ever been involved in a shootout.

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Brockport, the two-time defending ECAC Upstate New York champions, is 8-8-1 overall and will meet the winner of top-seeded Richard Stockton College (12-7-2) and #8 seed SUNY Old Westbury (11-8) in the ECAC Semifinals on November 13.

It was the first meeting between the two schools in women’s soccer and the first time NJCU has met any member of the State University of New York Athletic Conference.

NJCU junior forward JULIA CASERES (Union, NJ/Union) gave the hosts a 1-0 halftime lead when she netted her 26th goal of the season and 78th of her three-year career at 35:58 of the first half. Brockport senior midfielder Abby Smith (Mexico, NY) tied the game at 57:01 of the second half with her team-leading ninth marker of the season.

Each club received solid efforts from its All-Conference goalkeepers. NJCU junior LAURA ROBINSON (Edison, NJ/Edison) made 10 saves while Brockport junior Erin Asquith (Arcade, NY) stopped five shots. Junior defender Arielle Schneider (Plainview, NY/Plainview-Old Bethpage) added a defensive team stop.

NJCU All-New Jersey Athletic Conference junior JENNIFER ALBUJA (Union City, NJ/Hoboken) led a defensive contingent that limited the Eagles to 11 shots on goal in four periods.

NJCU was without two-time all-conference sophomore forward ASHLEY CUNHA (Edison, NJ/Edison), the team’s No. 2 scorer, who was injured in the NJAC Quarterfinals on October 30 at Richard Stockton, and two-time All-NJAC center midfielder KATLIN VARGO (Edison, NJ/Union Catholic), who left the contest twice with an injury originally suffered in the NJAC Tournament. Vargo did not return after leaving in the second half, while playing only 63 of 110 minutes. That allowed Caseres to be double and often triple-teamed on top, and still was able to lead the team with nine shots, including four on goal.

Brockport outshot NJCU 28-21 overall and had a 9-1 margin in corner kicks. The Knights owned a 1-0 halftime lead and a 14-5 edge in shots at the break, before Brockport outshot NJCU 15-4 in the second half and 23-7 over the final 65 minutes.

In the shootout, NJCU won the coin toss and elected to shoot second in each round. In the opening round, Schneider shot first for the visitors and netted her chance into the right side of the target. Freshman defender CAITLIN BOURQUE (Browns Mills, NJ/Pemberton) led off for NJCU. Her first attempt was good inside the left post but came before the whistle so she was forced to reshoot. Her second attempt snuck inside the left post to even the shootout at 1-1.

Smith shot into the right side for a 2-1 lead before sophomore midfielder AMANDA SPETHMANN (Wood-Ridge, NJ/Hasbrouck Heights—Wood-Ridge) evened it with an attempt into the right corner.

In the third round, senior forward Jess Bush (Dryden, NY/Dryden), who had five shots for the Eagles in the game, hit her chance into the right side. NJCU sophomore defender DELIA CHERNEZ (Union City, NJ/Union City) stepped up and buried an opportunity into the top left corner, and the shootout was even at 3-3.

Brockport sophomore defender Gina Laing (Holland, NY/Holland) made it 4-3. Robinson dove towards the right post and got two hands on the shot, but was unable to keep the ball out of the net. Sophomore midfielder CHELSEA SPETHMANN (Wood-Ridge, NJ/Hasbrouck Heights—Wood-Ridge) tried to even it again, but her chance sailed left of the post.

With Caseres on deck for NJCU, Brockport sophomore midfielder Sarah Lawson (West Seneca, NY) had a chance to clinch a berth in the semifinals and hit a shot into the right side as the Eagles connected on all five opportunities in the shootout.

“I decided to go with a smaller group this season and I knew if we had injuries, we wouldn’t have as much rehab time,” noted fifth-year head coach ROBERT BIELAN, who was celebrating his birthday during the playoff game. “We pushed the season as far as we could make it and today, with starters out due to injuries, we still left our hearts on the field. We have no issues with the outcome of today’s game. Our girls played to the very last minute and I’m proud of the way the team handled themselves and played this year. Nobody quit and everyone did their job the way they were trained. That’s why we had a successful season and made the post-season two years in a row.”

NJCU outplayed the Golden Eagles in the first half and had several quality opportunities. Chelsea Spethmann had a rip just miss the left post at 18:06 after a Caseres shot was saved at 11:09. At 30:38, rookie midfielder ALEXIS FREES (Linden, NJ/Linden) had a clean look at an empty net after Asquith failed to cut off a pass, but her off-balance shot was cleared with a team save by Schneider. However, the ball was played right back to Asquith who picked it up in the box. The hand ball foul on the keeper gave NJCU a 10-yard indirect kick inside the box and a subsequent attempt by Caseres was blocked.

Finally, NJCU struck late in the 36th minute. On a windy day in North Jersey, the Knights sent a long ball down field that the wind held up. Caseres was able to gain possession on the right wing, beating two defenders to the ball, before tucking a shot into the left side of the net at 35:58 for a 1-0 lead. It was the seventh time this season she scored the first goal of a game.

Brockport came out more aggressive in the second half as Robinson had five saves in the period. Sophomore midfielder Kayla Maguire (Potsdam, NY/Potsdam) had a shot stopped by Robinson at 49:02 and later hit the top of the crossbar at 52:24. Robinson made a pair of saves in a span of 17 seconds in the 57th minute.

Smith, who had a game-high 11 shots (five on goal), evened the game at 57:01 with a shot inside the box. Robinson dove towards the left post—the direction the ball was heading. But the attempt caught the back of an NJCU defender and caromed wildly towards the right side of the net as the visitors tied the game.

Albuja cleared a dangerous chance by Brockport at 59:45 and she nearly gave the Knights the lead herself when her free kick at 82:22 missed just high before the contest headed to overtime.

Brockport had a 5-2 edge in shots in the first overtime and 8-3 in the two extra sessions. Albuja was moved to forward—where she has 66 career goals—for the overtimes. At 93:10, Robinson made a stop on sophomore defender Courtney Belding (Rochester, NY/Gates-Chili), before an attempt by Smith was blocked and Maguire missed just high on the right post from five yards out. Belding had another solid chance at 95:54 before Robinson smothered it, diving to the left post.

In the second overtime, Caseres’ free kick following a foul in the 102nd minute was caught by Asquith. Robinson stopped a header off a free kick at 104:07. The Knights nearly won it on a wild play where a long cross by Amanda Spethmann took two large hops on the turf, over both squads, and narrowly missed the far post.

Robinson forced a shootout period and kept the game tied at the 108:09 mark when she smothered a point-blank header by Smith in the center of the goal.


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