By Michael Otero
From intensity and focus to jubilation; sophomore forward/midfielder, Emily Miller, let the no. 4-ranked Pioneers exhale with the game-winning goal in the 78th minute of their overtime NCAA Division II Semifinal win against no. 5-ranked Saint Anselm College on Friday, Nov. 18. The win advanced the Green and Gold to the NCAA Division II National Championship for the third time in the last four years.
The Pioneers and the Hawks from Saint Anselm played a combined three times this season and each time the Pioneers ousted its opponent on overtime.
The game itself was a tale of two halves as the Pioneers came out of the gate strong and held a 6-3 advantage in shot attempts. The Hawks though were also aggressive and totaled six penalty corners in each half, but could not get any of them to result in points on the scoreboard. Senior goalie, Ericka Parks, made a game-high seven saves, five of which came in the second half to preserve the tie.
In the overtime session, Miller got off a shot that was turned aside early. A few minutes later, she deflected a shot from sophomore midfielder/defender, Julie Gysels, past the keeper for her tenth game-winning goal of the season.
The win sent the Pioneers to the National Championship game against no. 1-ranked Shippensburg University. The Pioneers have played in the title game two times in the previous three seasons and each time came up short. This season, however, they were a combined 7-1 against teams ranked in the top ten in the country and had toppled East Stroudsburg University, which held the no. 1 rank at the time.
Scoring chances were at a premium on this day, with each team totaling shot attempts to be counted on one hand. When Shippensburg capitalized in the seventh minute with a goal and another in the 61st minute, it seemed like the Pioneers would need a miracle to come back. The team gave it one hell of a shot.
Miller, the hero from the previous game, cut the deficit in half with a goal in the 65th minute and nearly tied the game and sent it to overtime; but sophomore goaltender, Ally Mooney, made a great save to keep her team ahead 2-1.
The clock struck midnight on the Pioneer comeback attempt and Shippensburg came out with the nail-biting 2-1 victory, and the national championship title.
The loss wraps up the season for the Pioneers. “We really thought we were going to do it today. We were right there,” said Head Coach Raenee Savin. “Unfortunately, it won’t be with our six seniors, but I am confident that LIU Post will be back.”
The Pioneers will return to action in the fall of 2017.