The Elizabethtown College women’s soccer team had scored just one goal through its first three games of the season before their matchup against Franklin & Marshall College on Sept. 9. A goal by Senior Kara Weller in the season-opener against Union (N.Y.) College helped the Blue Jays settle for a 1-1 tie on Sept. 1. Etown traveled to Roanoke, Va. over Labor Day weekend, falling to the top-ranked team in the country, Lynchburg College, and dropped their game against Roanoke College the following day.
“The tough early season schedule has definitely provided us with obstacles and challenges that we’ve had to work together to overcome,” senior Lauren Fredericks said. “This schedule allows us to really work on our game against some very good teams, that way come time for our conference games, we will be better prepared for the teams and challenges thrown at us.”
Entering last Wednesday’s home game against the Diplomats, the Blue Jays were 0-2-1 and determined to break into the win column. Etown put all of their offensive woes behind them after being shut out in back-to-back games as they fired 23 shots at Franklin & Marshall Goalkeeper Nicole Savidge. Early pressure by the Blue Jays offense forced Savidge to make a few big plays to keep the game scoreless. Seniors Kaceyanne Cerankowski and Trisha Clark had opportunities to find the back of the net in the first 10 minutes, but Franklin & Marshall dodge a goal in both instances.
In the 27th minute off a corner kick by junior Maddie Burkhardt, the ball found sophomore Maria Boretti on the far post and she recorded her first goal of the season. Less than a minute later, sophomore Lindsay Hoagland took a shot from the left side just inside the 18-yard box, bending it up and over the outstretched goalie for her first career goal. Clark was credited with the assist on Hoagland’s goal, giving the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead into the break.
Etown’s defense stifled the Diplomats offense, holding Franklin & Marshall to just two shots, none of which were on goal. Senior goalkeeper Dana Robidoux played all 90 minutes without having to make a save for her first shutout of the season.
Under new direction, the Blue Jays have had to make adjustments to the style of play head coach Chris Wilson likes. It has taken time and the first few games have shown some growing pains of the changes.
“There is some style change to our game that we have had to learn and adjust to, but we are ultimately trying to play the game to the best of our abilities and bringing that together as a team effort,” Fredericks said. “The team has been improving every game at working as a unit. We will always continue to improve our communication, work effort off the ball and basic foot skills. Improving on these areas even a little bit will help us in the upcoming games.”
The Blue Jays traveled to face St. Mary’s (Md.) College on Sunday in hopes of stringing together two straight victories. The offensive outburst from their prior game continued into this one as Etown jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 35 minutes of action.
In the 10th minute, senior Lauren Berry scored on a free kick from the edge of the box for her first goal of the season. Berry was the Blue Jays’ leading goal scorer last season but had yet to record a goal this season before Sunday.
Moments later, the Blue Jays jumped out front 2-0 when Berry struck again for her second goal of the game off an assist from Burkhardt. Etown maintained complete control of the first half and stretched their lead to three goals when Hoagland ripped a shot past St. Mary’s goalkeeper Katie Flores. Cerankowski was credited with an assist on the goal.
With less than eight minutes remaining in the first half, St. Mary’s finally found the back of the net against Robidoux as leading-goal scorer Gillian Sawyer recorded her fourth of the season. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, Sawyer would be far from done on the afternoon.
After a scoreless first 25 minutes of the second half which saw both teams have opportunities to score, Sawyer broke through Etown’s defense and scored her second goal to pull the Seahawks back within one.
St. Mary’s second half adjustments on defense kept the Blue Jays off the scoreboard and the Seahawks were able to capitalize as Sawyer finished the game with a hat-trick after her 82nd minute goal that tied the game at three.
After a scoreless first overtime session, the Blue Jays broke through in the 104th minute to send Etown home 4-3 winners. Cerankowski’s quick turn at the edge of the box gave her enough space to shoot over Flores and give the visitors a second straight victory.
Robidoux recorded three saves in the game including a save in the 102nd minute to keep the game going.
“We put three goals away early against a very good team, but we faced a constant attack with them battling back in the second half,” Fredericks said. “We had to pull ourselves together and work the ball like we know how to in double overtime to get a goal and win.”
Etown has seemingly broke out of their offensive slump after the past two results. The Blue Jays will stay on the road as they travel to Penn State Harrisburg tomorrow afternoon for a 4p.m. kickoff.