Late surge lifts Slippery Rock past California (Pa.), into quarterfinals
ALBANY, N.Y. – Slippery Rock made history Friday, punching its ticket to the Division II national quarterfinals for the first time with a 3-0 shutout of California (Pa.).
The Rock will play American International at 1 p.m. Sunday in Albany with a trip to the national semifinals on the line.
Slippery Rock improves to 15-3-2 overall with the win and completes a season sweep of the Vulcans, who end their year with an 18-3-2 record. Slippery Rock has now won four consecutive games against California and has eliminated the Vulcans from the NCAA tournament in each of the past two years.
The offensive output from Slippery Rock was the highest goals allowed for California all season. The Vulcans entered the game with a 19-game unbeaten streak in which they had allowed only four goals in that entire stretch.
Caitlin Binder was strong in the midfield and helped to lead a defensive effort that shutout one of the highest scoring offenses in Division II. Behind her, Lauren Impey led the back four to another shutout effort along with Izabel Scott, Lynn Neef and Marissa Scullin, a group that allowed only three shots on goal.
Dana O'Neill earned her 29th career shutout between the posts for Slippery Rock, moving to 16th in Division II history in total shutouts and second among active players.
Dara Demich stepped up in the absence of leading scorer Andrea Felix and netted the game-winning and second goals, her 10th and 11th on the year, and Impey netted the dagger with a free-kick goal with less than six minutes to play.
Neither team could break through in the first half and each managed just one shot on goal in the opening 45 minutes. The break came in the 69th minute when Demich chased down a long pass near the edge of the box and a California defender collided with goalkeeper Meghan Jayes, taking her out of the play. Demich walked in, literally, and tapped the ball across the goal line to put Slippery Rock up 1-0.
Demich benefited from another miscue by Jayes in the 84th minute. She took a chance and hit a hard low shot that looked like it would be saved, but the ball slipped through Jayes' arms and into the net to make it 2-0.
Impey ended all doubt in the 85th minute when she wrapped a perfect free kick around the wall and into the right side of the net to make it 3-0. The free kick was set up after Sam Thronton was pulled down just outside the 18-yard box on a breakaway attempt.
Jayes finished with three goals allowed and four saves.