he Elizabethtown women’s soccer team had a lot to celebrate last Saturday afternoon. The Blue Jays began the afternoon by celebrating the careers of three seniors Amanda Fisher, Alyssa Koplin and Alex Topa. Etown finished the day by defeating Widener University 2-1 on the strength of two unanswered goals. With the victory, the Blue Jays clinched the second-seed in the Commonwealth Conference Tournament, avoiding a match-up with ninth-ranked Messiah before the championship game.
“This season definitely had a rocky start in New Jersey. It took us awhile to really find our game but since we have, great things have happened,” sophomore Deanna Slater said. “We are accomplishing our goals that we had set in the beginning of the season and we hope to stay on track.”
Last season, the Blue Jays entered the Commonwealth Conference Tournament as the third-seed, falling to Stevenson on the road in the semi-finals. This year the two teams will once again meet in the semi-finals, but the Blue Jays will have home field advantage this time around.
“Getting knocked out by Stevenson last year was hard, and we aren’t going to let that happen again this year,” Slater said. “We are training even harder and preparing for this game. We know that this will be a good game and that we need to keep our heads in it and not let up even for a second.”
Stevenson slipped into the third seed on the final day of the regular season by way of defeating Alvernia 1-0 and getting help from Lebanon Valley College, which defeated Arcadia 2-1.
Etown dominated Saturday afternoon’s contest with the Pride in every statistical category, but found itself down 1-0 20 minutes into the game. Widener produced the first goal of the game off of a rebound, one of only two shots on goal that sophomore Dana Robidoux faced all day. After Widener’s goal, the Blue Jays’ defense tightened up, allowing only six total shots and just one corner kick.
The Blue Jays’ offensive dominance turned into something positive in the 38th minute, during which Slater found fellow sophomore Lauren Berry in the box for her team-leading 16th goal of the season. The game remained tied until late into the second half, as Widener found ways to hang around. However, a mistake by Widener in the 83rd minute cost them the game.
A Widener foul inside the box resulted in a penalty kick for the Blue Jays. Sophomore Trisha Clark calmly placed the ball into the back of the net for her fifth goal of the season, giving Etown the victory.
“We would absolutely love to play Messiah again. Since Etown and Messiah is probably the biggest rivalry in division three soccer, we want that last opportunity to play them,” Slater said. “We know that if given the chance, we could give them a very good game.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the Commonwealth Conference released its All-Conference teams for the regular season. Four Blue Jays were recognized by the Conference as Berry, sophomore Kaceyanne Cerankowski and junior Kendra Mancino were all named to the All-Commonwealth Conference First-Team, and Clark was named to the All-Commonwealth Conference Second-Team. For Cerankowski and Clark, this was their second straight All-Conference honor.
The semi-final matchup against Stevenson is set to kickoff at 4:30 p.m. today on Ira R. Herr Field. The Blue Jays finished the regular season 12-6-0, and 7-2-0 in the Commonwealth Conference. A victory over Stevenson would likely set up a rematch against rival Messiah in the championship game.
In an earlier match-up this season, the Blue Jays defeated the Mustangs 4-3 in front of their home crowd. Etown hopes to have the same outcome today.