Coordinator of Sports Info, Athletics
320 DuPont Highway
New Castle, DE 19720
Wilmington Women’s Soccer Earns First CACC Tournament Championship with 1-0 Victory over Philadelphia
WSoc: #1 Wilmington 1 - #2 Philadelphia 0 - CACC Championship
For the first time in program history, the Wilmington University women’s soccer team can call itself Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament champions.
A goal with 32 minutes remaining in regulation stood up as the top seeded Wildcats defeated No. 2 Philadelphia, 1-0, in the CACC Tournament Championship on Sunday afternoon at LaMoy Field on Post University.
Wilmington (13-6-2 overall) earned the conference’s automatic berth into the NCAA Division II East Regional Tournament, the first appearance for the women’s soccer team in program history.
“I’m extremely proud of the group of girls we have and trusting the coaching staff and believing in what we are building here,” fifth year head coach Josh Ruggiero said. “The seniors had a goal of hanging a banner when they came in and now they can say they accomplished that. With all their hard work they have made me and their alumni extremely proud and we hope this program can feed off this and turn it into a feeling that is common.“
In what has become a late season statement, today’s match had another strong defensive effort by the Wildcats, as they held the Rams (13-7 overall) scoreless for their third shutout in the last four matches. In all, the Wildcats only allowed one goal in the CACC Tournament.
Senior goalkeeper Amanda Walters made six saves in goal for her seventh shutout of the season, aided by the backline play of seniors Alli Williams, Molly Taylor and Vikki Zipf and juniors Monica Weil and Sarah Lindler.
“We didn’t want to change our game plan at all today,” Ruggiero said of his defensive game plan. “As much respect we have for Philadelphia and the talent they have this year, we wanted to win a championship being us and running our scheme. The defense was rock solid today. They communicated well, they processed everything phillyu was throwing at us with poise and we were able to build off that and transition into our offense.”
Unlike the regular season matchup against the Rams which saw Philadelphia come away with a 3-0 victory on the Wildcats home field, Wilmington kept the Rams on their heels for the entire first half. The Wildcats outshot the Rams, 7-5, including four shots on goal.
Junior Chelsea Grace had three of the shots on frame in the opening 45 minutes and had the best opportunity to put the Wildcats on the board with a breakaway in the fifth minute. Philadelphia goalkeeper Kelli Kowalewski came off her line to deny Grace and keep the game scoreless.
In the second half, the Wildcats only needed one scoring opportunity as they capitalized on their lone shot in the 58th minute.
Later named CACC Tournament MVP, Victoria Vasapolli made an outstanding individual effort down the left wing, beating three defenders to get into the 18-yard box on the left side. Vasapolli put the ball across the front of the goal, getting it by an outstretch Kowalewski and right to Grace who had a wide open goal mouth in front of her. The ball redirected off Grace’s knee and into the goal for the 1-0 lead.
“We’ve wanted Victoria to trust her athletic capability all season long and trust that her teammates are going to be where they are supposed to be at the end of the play,” Ruggiero said of the sophomore. “Her run down the left side was flawless. She executed that perfectly.”
The goal proved to be the game-winner for the Wildcats, even as the Rams poured on five second-half shots. Philadelphia outshot the Wildcats, 5-1, in the second half, but all shots came from outside the 18-yard box and did not turn into a real scoring opportunity.
Vasapolli was named the CACC Tournament MVP after scoring two goals and adding two assists in the three matches, including two goals against Georgian Court in the semifinal. Walters, Grace, Morgan Fraczkowski and Jenna Quaranta were also named to the All-CACC Tournament Team for the champion Wildcats.
“We took a step in the right direction today of joining the likes of Philadelphia in the CACC,” Ruggiero, who was voted as the CACC Coach of the Year on Thursday night at the CACC Banquet, said of the Rams. “We have been inspired by what Philadelphia and its coaching staff has been able to do with the program over the years and we can now put our names at the top of the list with them.”
The Wildcats earned the CACC’s automatic berth into the NCAA Division II East Regional Tournament starting next weekend. They will learn where and who they play following the NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Selection Show on Monday night at 7:30 p.m. on NCAA.com.