The Elizabethtown women’s soccer team is making noise on a national stage. Going into Saturday’s game against Penn State Harrisburg, the Blue Jays were one of only two Division III teams in the nation to not have allowed a goal. Saturday’s game would prove to be no different for Etown than the first four.
The Blue Jays begin games at high intensity, and this spark struck again against the Lions. Sophomore Maddie Burkhardt scored just three-and-a-half minutes into the game off an assist from fellow sophomore Callie McClanahan. Burkhardt has scored the Blue Jays’ first goal of the game three times this season, all before the four-minute mark.
In the first-ever meeting between the two schools, the Blue Jays proved to be a stronger opponent than Penn State Harrisburg could handle. Etown struck three times in the first 21 minutes of action to take a commanding three-goal lead into halftime, eventually going on to a 5-0 victory. Nearly 10 minutes after McClanahan assisted Etown’s first goal, she found herself on the end of junior Lauren Berry’s pass, resulting in the Blue Jays’ second goal.
Moments later, Berry scored her first of the season off an assist from junior Trisha Clark. The Blue Jays managed 15 shots on the Lions’ goalkeeper in the first half and finished with 32 on the afternoon.
Coming out of halftime, Etown played like the game was tied. Barely three minutes into the second 45-minute period, junior Kara Weller found junior Kaceyanne Cerankowski for the Blue Jays’ fourth goal. The Blue Jays’ final goal of the day came just 44 seconds later when Weller played a ball over the defense’s heads, and Burkhardt finished it for her second goal of the day.
“Our objective each and every game is to come out as strong as we possibly can the first five minutes to set the tone for the rest of the game. No matter the score, the first five minutes and last five minutes of each half are the most important to each game,” Weller said.
“Even if we have a big lead going into the second half, we cannot let up. We have to come out strong. Our coach always tells us to play each and every minute like we are down 1-0 in a championship game, and that is the exact mindset we have when we start each half, no matter what the score is,” Weller said.
Burkhardt leads the team with five goals this season. Weller, Berry and McClanahan each have three assists this year. This Blue Jay team is ranked in the top 10 in the nation in scoring offense at 4.4 goals per game.
Even more impressive than their 22 goals through the first five games, the team has not allowed a single goal through Sept. 20. With a Haverford College loss on Saturday, and with Washington-St. Louis University allowing a goal in their 2-1 victory on Friday night, Etown is the only team left in the country not to allow a goal. That adds up to a goal-less streak of 450 minutes for opponents.
“Hearing that we are the last D3 school in the nation to have not allowed a goal in this season is such exciting news that we are all ecstatic about. It is a true representation of all of the hard work we have put in this season so far,” Weller said. “We just take it one game at a time and work hard every game no matter what, so it is really nice to see that our hard work is finally paying off. Although this is a huge accomplishment for us, we have some really big games coming up, so that is when we will really be put to the test.”
Junior goalkeeper Dana Robidoux agreed with Weller’s comments. “We are beyond excited and proud to be the last D3 team to not allow a goal. I think for a lot of us it’s a confidence booster and major realization,” she said. “We all believe in ourselves and trust one another on the field, and then to get this gratification on top of how well we have already been playing compared to past seasons is a really great feeling for all of us.”
Robidoux played the first 61 minutes of the game, making one save and facing very little offensive pressure. Robidoux gave way to first-year Hailey Parks who played the remaining 29 minutes and made one save.
“As a goalie, your defense is really everything. We have played some teams that have had amazing goalkeepers, but we still won because no matter how good a goalie is, they can only do so much without a good defense in front of them,” Robidoux said. “Having the strong defense in front of me gives me a lot of confidence. They have made my job pretty easy so far this season, barely allowing any shots on goal, sticking every tackle and hustling all game to make sure people didn’t get by them.”
The win over Penn State Harrisburg was the first game the Blue Jays had played since Sept. 13.
With huge games against ranked teams Misericordia University and Messiah College, the defense can be counted on to do its best when the team needs it to protect the goal.
“Our starting defensive line [Robidoux, junior Lauren Fredericks, first-year Maria Boretti, senior Kendra Mancino and sophomore Caroline Novak] has really stepped it up this year,” Weller said. “They put their heart and bodies on the line every time we step onto the field because they know how much of an honor it is to be a Blue Jay. They are not just defending our team’s reputation but also the players that came before us and paved the way for our program.”
Etown gained attention at the national level last year when they upset ranked opponent Misericordia University at Ira R. Herr Field, 1-0. This season, the Blue Jays took an undefeated record into the match-up at Misericordia.
Last night’s game proved to be the biggest test for the Blue Jays thus far.
The 9th-ranked Cougars scored in the 2nd minute of the game to snap a 451-minute goal-less streak for Etown. Two second half goals for Misericordia put the game out of reach as they went on to defeat the Blue Jays 3-0. The loss was Etown’s first of the season in six games.
For a team that is ranked in the top-10 in offense, the Blue Jays managed just four shots on goal for the game. Berry had three of the four shots on goal, and five total shots.
Robidoux made eight saves and went the distance for Etown.
The Blue Jays will open Landmark Conference play on Saturday at Catholic University in Washington D.C. on Saturday, Sept. 27 at 1 p.m.