STANDISH, Maine — The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) women's soccer team was a penalty kick away from pulling off an upset, but fell just short, 4-3 in PKs to two-seeded Saint Joseph's College of Maine (SJC) in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) quarterfinals Saturday afternoon.
It will go in the books as a 2-2, double-overtime tie, but the Monks' (13-3-3) 4-3 advantage in penalty kicks was just enough to survive and advance. They wiill host a semifinal match at the SJC Athletics Complex against three-seeded Emmanuel College Tuesday evening. Emmanuel toppled sixth-seeded Albertus Magnus College, 5-2 in its quarterfinal match. For the Blue Jays (10-6-2), the 2019 season has come to an end.
Senior defender Hailey Tarr (Eliot, Maine), who picked up an assist earlier in the match, converted her attempt in the second round of penalty kicks to seal the deal. Sophomore midfielder Rylee Snow (West Greenwich, R.I.) and freshman forward Olivia Belcourt (Cromwell, Conn.) scored goals for USJ. A pair of former Berlin Redcoats, freshman forward Maxine Muscatello, and senior midfielder and captain Olivia Norton had an assist each. For Norton, it was her final match in a Blue Jay uniform. Junior midfielder McKenzie Murphy (West Baldwin, Maine) and freshman forward Madison Michaud (Presque Isle, Maine) both scored for SJC. Sophomore goalie Adia Grogan (Kennebunk, Maine) had eight saves, while sophomore goalkeeper Lindsey Montminy (Vernon, Conn.) had 10 for the Blue Jays. The Monks were the more aggressive team most of the match, holding the lead in shots (27-15), shots on goal (12-10), and corner kicks (6-3).
The Blue Jays, who tied the Monks, 0-0 in their only regular season meeting, were determined to get on the board this time. They were the first to score in the 23rd minute, as Snow's first goal in three weeks could not have come at a better time. Muscatello set up Snow on the move, who netted her seventh goal of 2019 to make it 1-0. SJC responded with a huge goal eight minutes later from Murphy, her 11th of the year off a feed from Tarr. It seemed like a halftime tie was imminent, only Belcourt hit pay dirt off a pass from Norton in the 44th minute, to lift the Blue Jays to a 2-1 edge heading into halftime.
45 minutes of defense would send USJ to the semifinals. Shot after shot, the Monks came up just short despite again remaining the aggressor offensively. The outlook was bleak for SJC, still down 2-1 heading into the final five minutes of regulation, but that consistent offensive pressure finally paid dividends in the 86th minute, when Murphy found Michaud with a lead pass, forcing Montminy out of goal to challenge. Michaud put it past her to even the odds at two a piece.
With the match tied 2-2 after 90 minutes of regulation and a pair of 10-minute overtime periods, the Monks and Blue Jays – teams that again played to a 0-0 double-overtime stalemate during the regular season – headed for penalty kicks to determine who would advance.
The first PK round, which is a best-of-five format, saw both teams score a trio of kicks to force a second PK set. The NCAA rules state that the second PK round features attempts that "continue alternately in the same order until a team has one more goal in the same number of kicks" (184.108.40.206).
The second PK round saw just two kickers, as Grogan made a tremendous diving save on an attempt by junior midfielder Alyssa Fecko (Stafford, Conn.), setting the stage for SJC and Tarr, who launched a shot to the upper right corner of the net, effectively ending the Blue Jays season.
The Blue Jays season has concluded with a 10-6-2 overall record and a school record 20th straight GNAC Tournament appearance.
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