By Michael Otero
In the midst of an unbeaten streak that dates back to Sept. 17, no. 22-ranked women’s soccer extended that streak with a 2-0 victory against Mercy College on Wednesday, Nov. 2, in the East Coast Conference semifinals at home.
The Pioneers and Mavericks were in a scoreless heat that lasted for most of the first half until Sarah McGarry made a play in the 41st minute. The senior midfielder sent a cross into the box, which eventually made its way to freshman midfielder, Veronica Saager, who headed the opening tally into the mesh for a 1-0 Pioneer lead. That lead held up until the first-half whistle.
In the latter stanza, the Green and Gold were awarded a penalty kick and sophomore back/midfielder, Alice Schonfeldt, converted.
In net, sophomore keeper Hillevi Eklow made seven saves, six of which came in the second half, to earn yet another shut-out. The Pioneers won eight consecutive matches via the shutout and haven’t surrendered a goal since Oct. 8.
The win solidified the team’s place in the ECC Championship game against the University of Bridgeport on Friday, Nov. 4. In that matchup, the magical run of consecutive wins and shutouts ended as the team was hit with a 2-0 loss.
Although the first half featured zero goals, the Pioneers trailed in shots 7-4. That only got worse in the second half, as they were outshot 13-1. The Purple Knights converted on two of those 13 shots and the Pioneers simply didn’t have an answer.
If one team was the Pioneer’s Achilles heel this season, it was the Purple Knights. The no. 7-ranked team has two victories over LIU, both of them by identical scores. The loss drops the Pioneers to 14-3-2 on the season.
“It has been a challenging season for us where we have had stretches in the season where we played really well, and stretches where we have played really bad,” said sophomore forward, Andrea Huntzinger. “But I think I speak for the whole team when I say we are very happy with the results. We’ve learned from and corrected the mistakes we made in our last games and I have the utmost confidence in [us] going to the finals and bringing home the trophy.”
The Pioneers earned a bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament and will play Caldwell University on Friday, Nov. 11, in Garden City, N.Y. In their matchup earlier this season, the Pioneers came out on top, 4-0.