Winning their fourth straight match, the fourth- seeded Edinboro women’s soccer team defeated visiting fifth-seeded Kutztown, 1-0, on Tuesday afternoon at Sox Harrison Stadium in the quarterfinals of the PSAC women’s soccer tournament.
The Fighting Scots, who earned their way to their sixth straight PSAC tournament appearance with a 2-1 win at IUP last week, are headed to the conference semifinals in Erie on Friday.
“I guess it just means we’ll be in the semis, right? We want to win it all,” head coach Gary Kagiavas said about Tuesday’s win. “We are excited about the whole competition and the winning of the PSAC, but realistically, what we’ve done is moved to the next round. I’m really excited for the kids. I think it also secures an NCAA spot for us. It’s pretty exciting times right now, actually.”
After having fallen to the Golden Bears (11-6-1) by a 2-0 count exactly 364 days ago, across the state at Kutztown, the Fighting Scots (13-6) were able to right the ship with their second win this season against their conference foe.
“Oh absolutely, especially because last year we went there, we won, we came back and that’s like an eight hour drive, we don’t want to go all the way [back] there just to lose and then we did, which really sucked,” junior forward Alex Brown said of getting the revenge win against KU.
“To have them come both times and then to win both times was just so awesome, because we didn’t want to see them again,” she concluded.
Edinboro broke a scoreless tie in the 66th minute of the match behind the left foot of Brown, on a shot from about 26 yards out. Brown, scoring her fifth goal of the season, found the top left corner to put the Fighting Scots in front on an unassisted goal.
“It is a lot of pressure, actually and it feels strange, but I know that a lot of people rely on us and we all work for each other,” Brown said. “It wasn’t even just for me, that goal was for my whole team and [it was] just to keep us going in this conference and it’s a tough conference.”
On an early November afternoon that featured clear skies and 70 degree weather, the rematch of an earlier regular season tilt between the two conference foes had a little different feel to it according to head coach Gary Kagiavas. Edinboro notched 16 shots in a 4-1 home win over the Golden Bears back on Oct. 17 at a cold, snow dusted Sox Harrison Stadium.
“Last time we beat them 4-1 and the conditions had a lot to do with it,” Kagiavas said. “It was snowing and I really don’t think they were mentally prepared to play in those conditions, so it was a pretty easy game. We knew in every scouting report we had, they were going to be a tough out. We actually were prepared for any scenario today.”
In a scoreless first half, Edinboro outshot Kutztown 6-2 and put up three shots on goal as opposed to just one on the Golden Bears’ side.
The Fighting Scots nearly got on the scoreboard on two different occasions in the first frame. First, freshman defender Abby Gillespie shot just high on a free kick within the first two minutes of the match. Next, sophomore midfielder/forward Ashley Mutkus hit the crossbar in the 26th minute that nearly provided points on the Edinboro side.
In a back and forth second half that featured Kutztown operating in Edinboro territory for a good portion of the first 20 minutes in the half, sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Baskey was tested by a Kutztown effort that included five second-half shots.
“She always surprises us a lot,” Brown said, with a grin, of Baskey. “I know she plays a bit of a high line and it’s like kind of scary, but she does surprise us a lot and it’s really great to play with her, especially as a sophomore. That’s’ really awesome for her.”
Baskey, who recorded her fifth shutout win of the season, is now 11-4 in the net this season with a .746 save percentage after coming up with four saves in the win.
“Sarah’s been a rock star for a while,” Kagiavas said. “She’s been carrying us for a long time, but you know, honestly I think defense starts from up top. It doesn’t just start at the back. We had a way to shut down number 21 [Sam Busillo], who is supposed to be a really, really good player for them.”
Edinboro heads to McConnell Family Stadium in Erie on Friday morning to face the nation’s top ranked team in Gannon at 1:30 p.m. The one-loss Golden Knights defeated number 8 Bloomsburg 3-1 on Tuesday to earn the right to host the PSAC Final Four.
The Fighting Scots, who fell at Gannon 4-0 on Oct. 13, are in search of their first PSAC Championship berth in school history.
“I honestly think we’re going to be okay against Gannon, I really think we’re going to be okay against Gannon,” Kagiavas said. “We’re organized really well. I think we’re going to be ready to go. We’ll be prepared for them.”
Alex Brown scored the lone goal of the match, giving Edinboro a 1-0 win against Kutztown on Tuesday afternoon.
Mike Fenner is a Staff Writer for The Spectator.