The Elizabethtown College women’s soccer team was sitting pretty at 11-3 heading into Saturday’s senior day against Drew University. The Blue Jays owned sole possession of second place in the Landmark Conference, one game behind Catholic University, with two conference games remaining. Having already clinched a spot in the Landmark Conference Championships in their first year in the league, the Blue Jays earned a home playoff game with a win over Drew.
Last Thursday afternoon, the NCAA released its first Regional Rankings of the season. Etown found themselves ranked seventh in the first release of the Mid-Atlantic Poll. Familiar foes Lebanon Valley College (eighth), Misericordia University (fourth), Catholic University (third) and Messiah College (first), were also included in the Mid-Atlantic rankings. All three of the Blue Jays’ losses this year have been against teams in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Rankings.
“When we heard about our ranking, we were all so proud and excited,” junior Lauren Fredericks said. “Since we heard about it, we haven’t really brought it up again. We are honored but we are more focused on finishing the season and then playoffs. We can be happy about our accomplishments in the standings and things like that when the season is over.”
The Blue Jays honored their lone senior Kendra Mancino in the final regular season home game of her career. The four-year player has provided a huge lift to the Blue Jays’ defense over her career.
On Saturday, Etown relied on its offensive attack against Drew. In the 14th minute, junior Deanna Slater found fellow junior Lauren Berry for the first of Berry’s two goals on the afternoon. In the 21st minute of the game, sophomore Maddie Burkhardt scored to give the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead over the Rangers. Burkhardt’s goal started a string of three goals in under 10 minutes for Etown.
Just over a minute after Burkhardt’s goal, Berry scored her second of the first half off an assist from junior Trisha Clark. The first half scoring barrage ended in the 30th minute when Burkhardt scored her second of the game off an assist from junior Kaceyanne Cerankowski. The Blue Jays held a 4-0 lead over Drew in the first half thanks to two goals apiece from Berry and Burkhardt.
Junior goal keeper Dana Robidoux played the entire first half and did not face a single shot. Robidoux gave way to first-year Hailey Parks who played the entire second half and recorded one save. It was the ninth shutout of the season for Etown.
Out of halftime, Cerankowski joined the scoring output by taking a cross into the box and putting it into the back of the net for her team-leading 11th goal of the season. Burkhardt and Slater received credit with the assists on Cerankowski’s goal.
The victory over Drew was the Blue Jays’ seventh in a row. The women have secured a spot in the Landmark Conference semifinals and cannot finish any lower than second in the regular season conference standings. “This team is the best team I have been on during my time at Etown,” Fredericks said. “We have come so far from our first day of preseason to now. As long as we stay focused, play as a team and play with heart like we have been, I have no doubt that we can get further than we did last year in the NCAA Tournament. Our goals are high, and we hope to accomplish them, but we will be taking each game one by one as far as we can.”
Etown is guaranteed a home playoff game in the Landmark Playoffs, where they are 9-0 this season.
“We know that we play our best on our home field, so having a playoff game at home is ideal for us,” Fredericks said. “We know that we have one more game before playoffs that we need to do well in and make sure we are playing our hardest to prepare for playoffs.”
The Blue Jays will finish out the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 1, at 3:30 p.m. when they travel to the University of Scranton.