The Scranton women’s soccer team has won the Landmark Conference championship.
After three straight years of losing in the finals, the team was finally able to capture that elusive conference championship with a 2-0 victory over Moravian College at Fitzpatrick Field Saturday. It was a complete team win, with both the offense and defense coming up huge.
Two goals were scored early in the first half, and that was all the defense needed. Moravian made a few attempts to try to snatch momentum, but they were merely attempts that were soon squandered.
Junior midfielder Hannah DeMars won the MVP award following the game after scoring the first goal and delivering stellar play at the midfield position.
“This is a culmination of so many years of hard work for this program,” DeMars said.
DeMars scored the opening goal just four minutes and 45 seconds into the game, which really set the pace for the rest of the game and helped build early momentum for the team.
“It was a corner – it was perfectly placed, and honestly I closed my eyes and just headed the ball in the net,” DeMars said.
The next goal was scored by junior forward Jamie Hreniuk, who leads the team in scoring on the season.
“It feels awesome just to win. It doesn’t matter who scored – we could’ve had our goalie score and it wouldn’t make a difference,” Hreniuk said.
Hreniuk scored the second goal just minutes after DeMars scored the first.
The assist came from forward and midfielder Erica Licari, who headed a perfect pass right to Hreniuk, who was able to put it in the back of the net.
“(Defenseman) Carolyn (Warner) gave us a pep talk before the game. Eighty-two days of hard work – that’s when we started preseason, so it feels awesome that we’re going (to the NCAA Tournament),” Hreniuk said.
Although the second goal was a beauty and added to the momentum and secured the lead, it was not needed, as goalie Krissy Welsh pitched another shutout on the season. She played all 90 minutes and not a single goal got passed her.
“It’s huge, we haven’t had a goal scored against us on our field this year,” said Welsh, who went on to say how exciting it is to pitch another shutout, but doing it in a championship game means that much more.
Prior to the postseason, captains Warner and DeMars said that the biggest priority for the team was playing a full 90-minute game. However, on Saturday those concerns were put to bed.
“I think this is definitely one of the best games we’ve played all season,” Warner said. “We wanted it more, and I think that showed in our play. We played a whole 90 minutes.”
Warner, a defenseman, along with the rest of the backline, did not allow Moravian to get anything going offensively, helping goalie Welsh pitch yet another shutout. On top of that, the Scranton Women’s Soccer team has not allowed a goal at home this season, a feat that Warner is extremely proud of.
With this team win, the team has now automatically qualified for the NCAA tournament. It is the team’s first appearance since 2013, and a deep run is expected for this year’s squad. Their journey to the next championship will make a stop at Westminster, Md., as the team will take on Connecticut College at a neutral site.
Connecticut College received an at-large bid into the tournament and is 10-5-1 overall on the season heading into Saturday. The team looks to survive and advance all the way to a national championship as their historic season continues.