Nov. 21, 2008

Courtesy of St. Rose Athletics

WEST CHESTER, PA – Patience may indeed be a virtue. An early winter storm that blanketed suburban Philadelphia with three inches of snow and forced a three-hour delay of the scheduled kickoff did nothing to deter The College of Saint Rose from charting new territory with a 3-1 victory versus Bridgeport earlier this evening on the campus of West Chester University.

The win afforded the Golden Knights their first-ever NCAA Tournament Regional Championship and put them one step closer to a national title. Saint Rose will meet Mercyhurst in a national quarterfinal match on Sunday. Kickoff is scheduled for noon with the winner advancing to the “Final Four” in Tampa. The Lakers (15-4-4) advanced with a 1-0 victory against host West Chester in the Atlantic Regional Championship game earlier this afternoon.

“This is just a great confidence booster for us because we were able to play well in some tough conditions,” said Saint Rose head coach Laurie Darling Gutheil. “We think we can play with anyone after defeating (12-time defending regional champion) Franklin Pierce last week, and today bore that out.”

Sophomore forward Jazmine Farrell scored a goal and set up two others, while freshman midfielder Christina Cuffari and sophomore midfielder Amanda Deck accounted for the other tallies. Bridgeport finally broke through with the first goal against Saint Rose throughout 250 previous minutes of NCAA Tournament play when freshman midfielder Katie Stanley rattled a direct kick off the crossbar from 15-yards in the 70th minute.

Junior keeper Shannon Murphy made four saves on her way to tying a school mark with her 17th victory of the year. Meanwhile, junior Elina Yletyinen registered seven saves for Bridgeport, which set a school record of its own with 18 wins this autumn.

The game’s opening 25 minutes featured both teams making forays into each other’s third, before Saint Rose struck twice within a two-minute span. Cuffari made it a 1-0 game in the 32nd minute after Farrell delivered a cross from the left flank that Cuffari drove home far side from the top of the box. The next time, it was Farrell on the scoring end as she converted a feed off the foot of sophomore midfielder Jordan Bowers for what  held up as the game-winner. Deck added some breathing room for Saint Rose in the 63rd minute when she settled a drop pass from Farrell near the top of the box and rifled a shot that found the back of the net topside.

In the 13th minute, Cuffari penetrated through the middle of the Bridgeport defense to generate a strike from 25-yards out that forced Yletyinen to make a diving save to her left. The Purple Knights almost got on the board themselves two minutes later when freshman forward Maria Biondi rifled a shot from 10-yards that Murphy deflected out of harms way.

The game was more one-sided during the second period with Saint Rose controlling the majority of play and generating a 12-2 shot advantage. Farrell nearly added another marker in the 81st minute when she made a run to the far post, but just missed redirecting a diagonal pass through the box by freshman midfielder Derith Fernandes.

Regardless, by that point it was pretty much moot with Saint Rose well on the way to tying its own record from a year ago with its 19th victory of the season.

“This means everything to us because we have worked so hard for it. This opportunity encompasses all that any of us have strived for since we first arrived here (at Saint Rose). It is simply fantastic. We are all just so excited,” added senior forward Kailey Egbert.

Box Score