Nov. 21, 2010

Courtesy of Saint Rose Athletics

WEST CHESTER, Pa. - The College of Saint Rose rallied from behind and needed more than 110 minutes to finalize the outcome, but nevertheless the Golden Knights managed to punch their third consecutive ticket to the NCAA Division II Tournament Championship Finals in dramatic fashion this afternoon versus host West Chester.

Saint Rose advanced 3-1 on penalty kicks after 90 minutes of regulation and a pair of 10 minute overtime periods failed to produce a victor with the match deadlocked 1-1 between two of the nations top-10 defensive sides.

Senior keeper Deanna Esposito turned aside the first two Golden Rams shooters, which coupled with three consecutive Saint Rose conversions paved the way for the Golden Knights, the top-ranked team in the NSCAA/ NCAA Division Poll for the final three-fourths of the season.

Saint Rose (23-0-1) will now meet #12 UC-San Diego in a national semifinal encounter on Thursday, December 2 in Louisville. Kickoff is set for 2:00 pm. The national championship match is set for Saturday, December 4. Fifth-ranked and defending national champion Grand Valley State, MI (20-1-2) and #6 Florida Tech (10-6-5) comprise the other half of the bracket.

We are a disciplined team and we put ourselves in position to be mentally tough with our training and so we are prepared for this type of environment,” said Saint Rose head coach Laurie Darling Gutheil. It comes down to willpower. This team has that and we collectively displayed it today. That is what it was all about going down the stretch.”

Early on the Golden Knights found themselves in unfamiliar territory. The first half featured few scoring opportunities although #4 West Chester (18-1-4) got on the board early, which marked the first time Saint Rose had to play from behind since an eventual 2-1 victory versus Southern New Hampshire back on September 12.

Sophomore midfielder Jen Hutchinson developed the strike by sending a pass to the left side of the box that senior forward Devon Swaim collected before blistering a shot from 20-yards out into the top-right corner with only 4:20 gone by.

The Golden Knights drew even 37 minutes later when senior midfielder Amanda Deck beat her defender and lined a shot from the top of the box inside the right goal post.

Saint Rose nearly got the tiebreaker in the 19th minute when junior midfielder Kimberly Morton headed a corner kick that was labeled top side. However, West Chester sophomore keeper Lyndsie Bernardini leaped to deflect the ball out of harms way.

In the 66th minute, Deck sent a short through ball to a streaking junior forward Gianna DErrico who was forced to take an extra dribble after Bernardini came off her line to force her wide. DErricos subsequent shot from deep inside the box landed at the side netting.

The Golden Rams had a superlative opportunity themselves with 12 minutes remaining in regulation when freshman forward Kamilla Littlefjaere Deflected a cross that Esposito dove to her right keep it a tie game.

The superlative play by both keepers proved to foreshadow the ensuing tiebreaking procedure.

NOTES: Todays game is officially recorded as a tie and thus Saint Rose remains the nations (NCAA II) lone unbeaten squad…Esposito had her scoreless streak snapped at 937 minutes that covered 12-plus games…She nevertheless owns a school record with 23 victories this season…West Chesters strike marked only the second, first half goal Saint Rose has surrendered all season…The Golden Knights have outscored their opponents by an 82-7 margin on the year.