Knights bounce back against rival

It was a shootout early on in the Gannon University women’s soccer matchup against rival Mercyhurst at Gannon University Field on Sept. 24.

It was a competitive game and neither side wanted to give an inch to its Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference rival.

In the end, though, The Knights had more firepower and came through with a 4-2 victory.

Mercyhurst scored a goal in the first four minutes of the first half, as leading scorer Lauren Testa notched her fourth goal of the season.

The Knights responded in a big way, though, by scoring the next three goals. About 15 minutes after Testa’s goal, Gannon’s Mani Brueckner connected on a cross to Hannah Manzcka, who put a shot past Mercyhurst goalkeeper Ellie McDougall to tie the score at 1-1.

Seven minutes later, Brueckner found Justine Rodrigues to make it 2-1 in favor of the Knights.

Less than a minute later, the Knights struck again, this time when Amanda Gallant beat McDougall after Mercyhurst did not clear the ball.

Mercyhurst tried to get back in the game late in the first half with Kristina Roberti scoring because Gannon did not pick up the loose ball. That left the score 3-2 at intermission.

Gannon put the game out of reach 15 minutes into the second half when Olivia Sharbaugh scored a goal to put the Knights up by two at 4-2.

Gannon, which improved to 4-4-0 overall and 4-3-0 in PSAC play, desperately needed the win, Brueckner said later.

“Every win is important, but beating teams like Mercyhurst and Edinboro always has that little extra emphasis,” she said. “It was a must-win game for us, in terms of our record and just to be a dominant team in northwestern Pennsylvania.

“I think we were the strongest team on the field and we deserved to win.”

Gannon coach Colin Peterson said it felt good to beat the team’s rival. “And the way the team responded after the early goals was a testament to how good our team is,” Peterson added.

Peterson also said he was very happy to get a win after three rough losses.

“It is good that we won but it was unfortunate that we lost three tough games,” he said.

The rivalry between Gannon and Mercyhurst is a fierce one and competitive one. Gannon lost last time when facing Mercyhurst, 3-1. This time, it took a team effort for the Knights to prevail over the Lakers (2-4-1, 2-4-1).

Justine Rodrigues said it was particularly satisfying to beat Mercyhurst during her senior season.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” she said. “Looking back to freshman year, I never really understood the rivalry we had with some of the PSAC teams.

“Now that I am a senior and fully understand the competitiveness between Mercyhurst and Gannon, winning is obviously the biggest reward, but it’s also just another reminder of why I love playing so much.”

Gannon is playing on the road for the next three games. The Knights play at Millersville at 3 p.m. Friday, at Shippensburg at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and at Slippery Rock at 4 p.m. on Oct. 8.


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