ERIE — Off the heels of a 3-1 upset victory over the PSAC’s top seeded and the nation’s fifth ranked team Gannon on Friday afternoon, the Edinboro women’s soccer team was set to take on East Stroudsburg for the Scots’ first ever PSAC championship match. It would take more than regulation to settle the score.
Tied at 1-1 after 90 minutes, freshman forward Alex Pickett, streaking down the field, set up an open Shea Neal for a one-on-one breakaway scoring chance. Neal, a junior midfielder, beat sophomore goaltender Sarah Baskey to score just inside the left post.
Neal’s goal for seventh-seeded East Stroudsburg (11-6-2) came with just 2:01 remaining in the first overtime period to secure the 2015 PSAC women’s soccer championship Sunday afternoon at McConnell Family Stadium in Erie.
Breaking the Scots’ five match winning streak, East Stroudsburg won their second straight conference title with the win. The Warriors defeated West Chester in the quarterfinals and Slippery Rock in the semifinals prior to avenging a regular season loss to Edinboro (2-1 on Oct. 24).
“If you asked me at the beginning of the year, I wasn’t sure that we’d be in this position,” head coach Gary Kagiavas said. “Everything we’ve done to this point has kind of been a bonus. As in any other teams in the conference, you play hard, you train hard, you train every day and you try to get yourself here and we were unlucky and we didn’t get the job finished.”
The Fighting Scots (14-7) got the scoring started as they took a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute of the match as junior defender Shannon Regan scored her first goal of the season.
Regan, the General McLane product, was set up in the middle of the field as junior Alex Brown perfectly placed the ball for a Regan header that beat Warriors’ goaltender Jules Harris to the back of the net.
“The whole plan with all the corner kicks is just to put the thing in the box and hopefully we can get a deflection or something. Shannon won that ball easily. You saw with our corner kicks, we’ve used them; we’ve got three or four different varieties. We felt today, if we put the ball in the box, we got a good chance of scoring and Shannon scored.”
In the 31st minute, junior forward Brielyn Hackett’s missed shot bounced off of Baskey to allow for a rebound shot that would tie the score at one goal apiece. Pickett, in the right place at the right time, capitalized on an open net to score on the left side of the goal.
East Stroudsburg held an 8-7 advantage in shots throughout the first half as each goaltender recorded four saves.
The Fighting Scots traded several shots back and forth to begin the second half before Edinboro lost a pair of players to injury. Sophomore forward Ashley Mutkus and junior forward Alex Brown left the match during the second half and did not return.
“Those kids are carrying us all year and score goals and give us opportunities to win games. I was very impressed with how well we did. The kids that came on did very well. At the end of the day, you’ve got to finish your chances. That’s the bottom line.”
Tied for third on the team in points, Mutkus was one of two top three scorers on the team out of the Boro lineup. Brown, who had scored three goals in the PSAC tournament and two within the semifinal matchup alone, was also a big loss, according to Kagiavas.
“You’ve got to be thinking, clear mind, you’ve got to be playing with composure and maybe somewhere along the way I could’ve done a little better coaching. To be fair, these kids played as hard as they could and we lost Mutkus, we lost Brownie. It’s the same for everybody at this point, everybody’s hurt.”
In a match between two teams playing back and forth all afternoon, the Scots fittingly outshot the Warriors 10-9 in the second half to give each team 17 shots heading into a sudden death overtime period.
“You always knew it was going to be one thing or two things,” Kagiavas said.
“It’s just one thing and we had a chance like two minutes before that to finish it off and I think on the goal they scored we had two or three of our kids right there. We should have cleared.”
East Stroudsburg earned an automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA tournament with the win. For Edinboro they are the fourth seed and face #5 Charleston (WV) at Gannon on Friday at noon.
Mike Fenner is a Senior Staff Writer for The Spectator.