Wildcats’ Record Breaking Season Comes to a Close in NCAA Women’s Soccer East Regional First Round
WSoc: #3 Saint Rose 3 - #6 Wilmington 0 - NCAA East Region First Round
Friday, November 9, 2012 - Springfield, Mass.
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Senior goalkeeper Amanda Walters comes off her line to make a sliding save, one of 12 on the game, in the second half against Saint RoseSophomore Morgan Fraczkowski heads a ball just wide in the first half of the NCAA East Region First Round game against Saint RoseJunior defender Sarah Lindler helped keep Saint Rose to one first half goal with her play on the back line in the NCAA East Region First Round
The Wilmington University women’s soccer team saw its season come to an end on Friday afternoon, dropping a 3-0 decision to No. 20 Saint Rose in the first round of the NCAA East Regional Tournament at Ronald J. Abdow Field on the campus of American International College.
After earning the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference’s automatic berth, the Wildcats (13-7-2 overall) were playing in their first ever NCAA Division II Regional contest while facing a team coming off a NCAA Division II National Championship run in 2011.
“I’m really proud of this group as a team; in every essence of the word,” fifth year head coach Josh Ruggiero said. “They exuded all the characteristics of what it took to be a team this year. To have been with this program for seven years now and to experience the highs and lows, this team really broke through the walls that have been in front of us for all those years. It really makes me happy with how they represented themselves, the program, the alumni, and the school. They went about it the right way.”
Wilmington, the sixth seed in the East Region held strong in the first half, playing against the third seeded Golden Knights and a heavy head wind all through the first 45 minutes. Saint Rose used the wind at its back to help keep the ball in the Wildcats defensive end for a majority of the half, out shooting the Wildcats, 21-2.
Senior goalkeeper Amanda Walters and the defense kept the Wildcats in the contest during the first half, as Walters recorded 10 saves and was aided by a pair of defensive saves off the goal line by the defense.
But the bend but don’t break defense of the Wildcats finally gave in to the Golden Knights as they were able to get on the board in the 20th minute. Saint Rose’s Carmelina Puopolo sent a corner to the back post where Sydney Bond headed it to Laura Taylor who redirected it home for the 1-0 lead 19:20 into the contest.
The Wildcats had two opportunities in the first half, both off the head of Morgan Fraczkowski. In the 10th minute, Fraczkowski headed a ball back to the near post, getting a cross from the right side that narrowly missed the post. Three minutes later, Fraczkowski took another cross from the right corner and this time tried the far post, but the ball sailed wide once again to keep the game scoreless at that point.
After the halftime break, the Golden Knights struck with two early goals to start the second half, essentially putting the game away. Puopolo scored an unassisted goal in the 51st minute before making it 3-0 with her second goal of the match in the 56th minute of action.
The Wildcats best chance in the second half to get on the board came in the 74th minute, as Chelsea Grace nearly snuck one past the keeper on a miscue by the Saint Rose defense but once again the ball went wide of the net.
Walters finished with 12 saves on the afternoon while her first stop of the match in the eighth minute was her 300th of her career. She becomes the only Wildcat net minder with over 300 career saves in program history and has the most wins (25) as a goalkeeper.
Seniors Brittany Rhodes and Vikki Zipf each recorded a shot on goal for the Wildcats while Zipf, Rhodes, Grace, and Fraczkowski tallied two shots each in the match. Ashley Kroll accounted for the ninth and final shot for the Wildcats.
In addition to Zipf, Rhodes and Walters, the Wildcats and its fans enjoyed watching its eight seniors for the final time on Friday. Liz Case, Alli Williams, Penelope Fantis, Molly Taylor, and injured Kory Webster all donned the Green and White for last time in their careers.
“They all stepped up in their own way to put this program back where we need it to be,” Ruggiero, the CACC Coach of the Year, said of his seniors. “With all the lack of leadership we had last year, we had more than enough this year. To be able to look back on the year and know each senior did something selfless for the team makes me proud as a coach to have had them a part of this program.”