Kutztown earns first tournament win in program history, tops West Chester
CALIFORNIA, Pa. -- After the Kutztown walked off the field 10 days ago, it wondered if its 2013 season had ended. After walking off the field Friday afternoon, Kutztown now can only wonder what lies ahead for another game. In a rematch of their Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference quarterfinal loss, the Golden Bears used two second-half goals to defeat West Chester 2-0.
The win marks the first time in program history that the women's soccer team won an NCAA Division II Women's Soccer Championship tournament game. As a result, the Golden Bears will face the sixth-ranked California Vulcans this Sunday, Nov. 17 at noon in the tournament's second round.
Kutztown (13-6) entered the tournament as the fifth seed of the Atlantic Region.
The Golden Bears and Golden Rams were held scoreless in the first half. Kutztown provided a majority of the offensive pressure, especially in the second half. The Golden Bears finally broke through with a goal in the 75th minute by sophomore midfielder Diana Malanga. She received a cross from junior forward Sam Costello about 12 yards out. After placing down the trap, she finished to the left side of the net. The Maroon and Gold added in a goal in the 83rd minute, when junior forward Taylor Higgins finished a counter on a breakaway started by freshman forward Alaina Curry.
"I was hoping we would find a way to get a goal and settle us down," head coach Erik Burstein said. "The longer it remained scoreless, the longer they could counter or score off a corner."
For the game, the victors outshot West Chester by a 19-8 margin. This included seven shots on goal and two that hit the upper crossbar. The first shot to hit the crossbar came from Mariah Dimm the 21st minute. The second came from a Malanga header in the 30th minute. Kutztown also owned a 7-3 advantage in the corner kick battle, including three by the Golden Bears in the first half.
"Once we got under our feet, we were able to create better opportunities," Burstein said.
After the two near scores in the first half, Kutztown built up more pressure in the second half. The Golden Bears unsuccessfully converted on four corner kicks before the initial goal. On that play, sophomore defender Sam Busillo dribbled the ball with the back end pressure and sent an over-the-top target pass to Costello along the right sideline. After Costello worked the ball to the corner, she cut back and sent the cross to Malanga. The goal was Malanga's third of the season. Meanwhile, Costello improves her team-best assist total to 11.
West Chester amped up the pressure in the following eight minutes of play. The Golden Rams had two scoring opportunities via corner kick. They also had a shot from Haley Mangiaruga sail high in the 81st minute. After the second aforementioned corner, Curry took the ball into space after a turnover. She sent a perfect pass to Higgins as Golden Rams keeper Alex Srolis came out to tackle the ball away. Higgins sent the shot past Srolis for the insurance goal.
Up next, the Golden Bears take on a California (PA) team that owns the top seed in the Atlantic Region.