ERIE — It’s no secret Edinboro’s women’s soccer team is having an extraordinary season this fall.
It took a little extra on Sunday to keep the magical season alive.
Fourth-seeded Edinboro needed a few extra overtime minutes to upset #5 Gannon, the top-seeded team in the region, for the second time this season as the Fighting Scots ended the Golden Knights season with a 2-1 win in front of 745 fans at McConnell Family Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
It was freshman Halle Hammer who snuck the game winning goal past Gannon goalkeeper Shannon Differ just one minute and 49 seconds into the first overtime period to send Boro (15-7-1) to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Tournament for the first time in school history.
Hammer, who has nine goals this season, her first in the Boro, described the sequence leading up to the game winner.
“Jansen [Hartmann] had an amazing run,” the Bethel Park, Pennsylvania native said. “I originally thought her ball was going in but, then I was like, ‘Wait, no this is for me’ and I just kicked it. It’s just awesome to share this with my teammates.”
Her teammates piled on top of her in celebration after an already exhausted team played 92 minutes of soccer on Sunday, coupled with the 110 minutes and penalty kicks on Friday, as well as 98 minutes in the PSAC Championship match back on Nov. 8.
“We looked at the kids after the 90 minutes and they all were getting rubbed down and were saying they were cramping up,” head coach Gary Kagiavas said. “I looked at them and said, ‘Look, if you need a sub, tell me because we got kids, we’ll put other kids on and every one of them said no’ that they are playing. They are just mentally strong, compete and play hard all the time.
“It’s nuts how resilient this team is,” he concluded.
Much like the ending of the second half of play, the first 45 minutes ended in a tie, as both teams failed to find the back of the net in the first half. Boro fired off eight shots in the first frame compared to Gannon’s five.
The second half featured more scoring, but not much of a lead for either team. The Scots scored first as Hartmann fed the ball to sophomore Ashley Mutkus on the right side of the field. Mutkus created separation and blasted a powerful shot from 25 yards out, across the net, into the upper left corner in the 63rd minute. The score was the seventh of the season for the Monaca, Pennsylvania native.
However, Boro enjoyed that lead for 24 seconds.
The Golden Knights resumed play and went right to work as Sammy Valloud pushed down the left side of the field and fired a cross in front of Edinboro’s goal that was headed by Gannon’s leading scorer, Mani Brueckner, past Boro goalkeeper Sarah Baskey and into the net.
“Unfortunately we gave up the one right after we scored one,” Kagiavas commented. “Sometimes they just catch you. You get so hyped up that you forget to defend and they score.”
Despite Gannon firing off 11 shots in the second half, the match remained tied at the end of regulation.“Our defense is amazing,” Kagiavas said, lauding his unit. “I can’t tell you how unbelievably strong our defense is. We don’t give up many goals. I think we can score at any time with the forwards we have, but we just have to make sure we do our jobs defensively. Defense will be key for us.”
The ladies are set to defend sixth-seeded East Stroudsburg as the Scots battle the Warriors in the Atlantic Region Championship on Friday at noon in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The battle is a re-match of the PSAC Championship from earlier this month where ESU won 2-1 in overtime.
“I thought we should have beaten them,” Kagiavas said about the back-to-back conference champions. “We know them really well. We have three or four scouting reports on them. It’s always nice to play teams that you know. I think we just have to be careful that we don’t get too hyped or excited that we forget what our responsibilities are and just take it one game at a time. It’s not going to be an easy game. I’m looking forward to it.”
Tyler Trumbauer is the Sports Editor for The Spectator. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org