BLOOMSBURG, Pa. -- With 25 minutes remaining in the second semifinal game, East Stroudsburg held a 4-1 lead on West Chester.
Prior to this moment, there hadn’t been a goal since the first half. A Golden Rams team that fell into a two-goal deficit less than 15 minutes into the game had played 23 minutes of staunch defense that brought some life back into their purple-clad fan contingent in the bleachers.
East Stroudsburg’s Desiraye Mack picked up a loose ball from a scrum inside the offensive circle, catching West Chester keeper Sarah Krause about 20 feet out of the net. Mack moved to her right and ripped off a shot, Krause, diving to her left, got a pad on it. The rebound went to Mack, who once again fired at the net, but Krause got a leg on it. Mack got the rebound from that shot too and this song and dance repeated itself two more times until Mack finally got the goal. East Stroudsburg went on to win 6-2.
Krause did everything but stand on her ear to keep the ball out of the net, leading to the feet-stomping, hand-shouting and “woo” screaming from the purple section in the bleachers until the eventual eruption of cheers from the fans of East Stroudsburg.
RELATED: Full tournament bracket
In the postgame press conference, representatives from each team were asked about that play.
“To be honest, I don’t remember the goal that you’re speaking about,” West Chester head coach Amy Cohen said.
“I can’t remember either,” added Rams forward Marnie Kusakavitch.
Even Mack, the Warrior involved in the battle drew a blank when asked if she remembered the play.
“Not really, goals just kind of come and, yeah,”
East Stroudsburg finished with six goals which matched the combined total from the championship’s first round and eliminated West Chester from championship contention.
The score was the second of the contest and 12th of the season for Mack.
Mack mentioned after the press conference that when you score that many goals in a contest, they all seem to blend together and once she gave it a little more thought, she did remember the goal.
“We just wanted to keep going at them,” ESU coach Sandy Miller said. “We have such an athletic group of young ladies and we have a pretty good scoring rotation where we have people coming off the bench so we stay fresh, so we wanted to just keep coming at them.”
The fourth of ESU’s six goals came from freshman Paige Harrold. After today, Harrold has four goals in her first collegiate season, with three of them coming against the Rams.
“My team around me, they help me get it done,” Harrold said. “My three goals that I have against West Chester, its nothing against them, it just happens that way.”
Harrold’s success against West Chester is indicative of her entire team’s performance against their PSAC rival this season. Since rejoining Division II in 2011, West Chester had gone 9-0 against East Stroudsburg heading into the 2015 season.
Now, at the end of their 2015 campaign, West Chester finished the year with five losses, three of them coming against East Stroudsburg.
East Stroudsburg will play Merrimack for the national championship on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET.