SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Saint Rose took a successful first step in its NCAA tournament run toward a second consecutive national championship with a 3-0 first-round victory against Wilmington (Del.) on the campus of American International College Friday afternoon.
The Golden Knights (17-2-2) controlled the pace of play throughout the game that resulted in a 35-9 shot advantage. They also manufactured nine corner kicks, while yielding only four.
Saint Rose now faces American International in a second-round match on Sunday. In their previous meeting this year, American International upended Saint Rose 1-0 in double overtime on Oct. 2.
Junior forward Carmelina Puopolo spearheaded the attack Friday with two goals and an assist. In the process, she registered her 19th strike of the season to tie her own single-season school record from a year ago. Junior midfielder Laura Taylor scored what held up as the game-winner, while junior keeper Jessica Gerski made two saves and skillfully managed the area throughout 85 minutes.
Meanwhile, senior keeper Amanda Walters came up with 12 saves for the Wildcats (13-7-2) who were making their first NCAA tournament appearance in program history.
The Golden Knights set the tone in the first half with a 21-2 shot advantage although they were ahead just 1-0 at intermission after Taylor deflected a shot from fellow junior midfielder Sydney Bond with 19:20 elapsed. Puopolo picked up an assist on the play.
Puopolo then scored twice within a five minute span during the early stages of the second half to pretty remove all doubt about the eventual outcome. She made it 2-0 with 50:42 gone by and then struck again by finishing off a Bond feed at the 55:02 mark to close out the scoring.