Knights set for NCAA Tourney

The Gannon University women’s soccer team hosted East Stroudsburg University on Thursday for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference quarterfinals, attempting to reach the conference final four for the first time in Knights’ history.

While the Knights weren’t able to reach the next round, they achieved the next best thing come Monday when the NCAA awarded them a spot in the Division II tournament.

The Knights and the Warriors braced themselves last week for the tough battle that resulted in East Stroudsburg emerging 5-4 in overtime penalty kicks.

Gannon (13-3-2) held a definite edge over the Warriors throughout regulation. Outshooting East Stroudsburg (10-5-5) 6-2 in the first half and 16-5 in the second half was not enough for the Knights to finish with a win.

With both teams scoreless in regulation, the game went into two more scoreless overtime periods. Gannon finished with 27 shots in all, 10 of which were on goal.

The Knights’ saw their best scoring opportunity, in the 19th minute of regulation play when they created a one-on-one situation with the Warriors’ goalie Brittain Wagner. With a quick shot the Knights rang the ball off the post leaving the game stuck at 0-0 early in the first half.

With a regulation score of 0-0, both teams were forced to buckle down for two periods of overtime.

The PSAC quarterfinal game was sent into a penalty kick shootout.

East Stroudsburg won the game by hitting the mesh on all five shots while Gannon missed one of its five.

In the most recent poll, Gannon is ranked seventh in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America rankings, and is third in the NCAA Division II Atlantic National rankings.

After a tough loss Thursday, the Knights had one more shot to make their mark on Gannon history.

On Monday, the NCAA named Gannon a third seed, marking just the second time the Knights have made the tournament. They will play sixth-seeded West Virginia Wesleyan noon Friday at host West Chester University.

The Knights’ have the potential to continue achieving new highs in the 26-year history of women’s soccer.

 

BECKY HILKER

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