GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (November 10, 2017) – On a cold, blustery Friday afternoon on Long Island, the run came to an end for the Franklin Pierce University women's soccer team in the First Round of the NCAA Championship East Regional, hosted by Adelphi University at Motamed Field. The strong wind at their backs in the second half would not be enough for the fifth-seeded Ravens, who could not cut into a two-goal halftime deficit. Instead, it was fourth-seeded LIU Post which came away with a 2-0 victory.
With the loss, Franklin Pierce concludes its season at 12-5-2 after returning to the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2010. With the win, LIU Post improves to 16-3-1 and advances to take on top seed and host Adelphi in the Second Round on Sunday at 2 p.m.
A stiff north-to-south wind would make its presence felt throughout the day at Motamed Field, practically from the opening whistle. LIU Post -- which played with the wind in the first half -- was nearly the beneficiary of the gusty conditions in the very first minute. A ball chipped ahead rode the wind and floated just over the head of the Franklin Pierce back line. It fell just inside the top of the penalty area for sophomore forward Julia Duffy, who got her head to the ball and put it towards the left side of the net. Senior goalkeeper Casey Cook (Beverly, Mass.) was forced to make an early save.
The wind also played a significant role in the game's opening goal, in the 11th minute. With the ball on the defensive left wing, an errant pass along the back line sent the ball skittering towards Cook, who had no option but to step into the ball and attempt to clear it herself. The clearance attempt hung up in the wind and was ultimately controlled by LIU Post, which pushed it back into the box. The opportunity led to a foul just inside the penalty area, which resulted in a penalty kick for the Pioneers. Sophomore back Alice Schonfeldt salted the penalty away into the right side of the net for her ninth goal of the season to open the scoring.
Just minutes later, in the 13th minute, Schonfeldt nearly made it 2-0. She found space to shoot on the left side from distance and let the wind help drive the shot towards the goal. The shot beat Cook high and on the left, but banged hard off the post, rebounded back into the penalty area and was ultimately cleared from danger.
Franklin Pierce's best opportunity in the opening 45 minutes came in the 21st minute, when it generated its only shot attempt of the stanza. Junior midfielder Bruna Tavares (Belo Horizonte, Brazil) found a shooting lane from about 20 yards out, just outside the top of the box and let fly with a shot towards the left side. However, the headwind took most of the mustard out of the shot, and LIU Post junior goalkeeper Hillevi Eklow was able to make a simple catch outside the right post as the ball ran out of steam.
The closest LIU Post came to converting on its six first-half corner kicks came in the 27th minute, when a corner from the right-wing fell near the penalty spot. Schonfeldt was the first to get her foot to it and drove a low shot ticketed for inside the left post. Sprawling to her right, Cook was able to make the diving save, and Duffy's rebound attempt was blocked out-of-bounds by the defense to avert the threat.
Running out of time with the wind at their backs, the Pioneers would make it a 2-0 game just 50 seconds before halftime, in the 45th minute. Freshman forward Julia Katsock did the heavy lifting on the play, as she turned on the afterburners to make a long run down the left-wing side with the ball. Katsock's centering feed from along the end line found junior forward Andrea Huntzinger with her back to the goal near the penalty spot. Huntzinger touched the ball just off to the left-wing side for sophomore midfielder Veronica Saager. The latter drove a shot from about 15 yards out inside the left post for her fourth goal of the season to double the lead heading into the break.
Playing against the wind in the first half, it may not have been surprising to see Franklin Pierce held to just one shot attempt and no shots on goal. What was more alarming, was the Ravens being held to just three shots on goal with the wind at their backs in the second half, as LIU Post continued to play shutdown defense throughout.
Franklin Pierce's first shot on goal on the day came in the 64th minute, as junior midfielder Nathalia Maria da Silva (Sao Paulo, Brazil) skipped a shot along the turf and on net. Eklow was there to smother it and make the save, however.
Katsock had two golden chances to extend the lead for LIU Post, in the 69th and 70th minutes, respectively, but could not convert on either. In the 69th, a feed from the right wing came to an open Katsock at the penalty spot and she had only Cook to beat. Katsock chipped the ball over Cook's reach, but the ball tipped off of the crossbar and went out of play. In the 70th minute, the Pioneers worked the ball to Katsock about 12 yards in front of the left post, but she pulled her shot wide of the target.
Franklin Pierce's best opportunity of the afternoon came deep into the second half, in the 78th minute. With space to fire, Tavares took a shot from the top of the penalty area which she looked to slip inside the left post. Eklow was there though, and made the save diving to her right to preserve the two-goal lead.
The Ravens did not earn their first and only corner kick until the 80th minute. It was da Silva who took it from the left-wing corner, but her service floated over everyone and wound up curling out of bounds on the far side. It would be the final legitimate threat towards the goal for Franklin Pierce on the day.
Cook (12-5-2) capped her career with a five-save outing, against seven shots on goal, in defeat for Franklin Pierce. Eklow (16-3-1) stopped all three shots on her goal for LIU Post to notch her 11th shutout of the season.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce soccer apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store).