BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Freshman goalie Nicole DellaPorta stopped three penalty-kick attempts, helping No. 4 seed Molloy advance to the East Coast Conference championship game with a 3-1 shootout win against top-ranked and No. 1 seed Bridgeport on Thursday at Knights Field. Though the Lions advanced in kicks, the game went into the books as a 0-0 tie.

Bridgeport, which came into the game with a flawless 16-0-0 mark, went first in the penalty kicks. Senior midfielder Katie Stanley stepped up and had her shot knocked away by DellaPorta. The Molloy goalie also saved the ensuing try by freshman forward Aulona Velaj. While the Purple Knights had their first two chances denied, the Lions made good on their first two attempts via shots by senior midfielder Nicole Reverberi and junior midfielder Kylie Barbosa.

Senior back Marie Pettersson trimmed the best-of-five shootout score in half for Bridgeport, but sophomore forward Allison Sloper answered back to give Molloy a 3-1 advantage. After that marker, one more save by DellaPorta would secure a spot for Molloy (9-8-1) in Saturday’s final. She turned aside the next attempt by Purple Knights senior back Danielle Weir to clinch the victory for the visitors. 

“I am still in shock. No one thought we could beat Bridgeport. It was indescribable,” DellaPorta said.

Following an uneventful first half, which saw both teams register just two shots on goal each, Bridgeport picked up the pace in the second stanza. Junior forward Julia Colley and junior back Stephanie D’Andrea each recorded tries on net in a 52-second stint, but DellaPorta was there to make saves on both. Bridgeport never managed another shot on goal for the remainder of the period. Molloy’s single attempt came via junior forward Nicole Valentine, which was blocked.

East Coast Conference Scores
Dowling 1, C.W. Post 1 (Dowling advances on penalty kicks)
Conference Championship Central

In extra time, both teams combined for just one shot, taken by Bridgeport’s Colley. Her shot in the first overtime period, coming at the 97:38 juncture, was one of DellaPorta’s game-high seven saves. Meanwhile, sophomore netminder Julia Hansson registered three saves for the Purple Knights, which owned a shot advantage of 18-6 in the contest. Bridgeport (16-0-1) also sported a 5-2 edge in corner kicks.

“It was a crazy game. My kids really worked hard tonight, and I would’ve been proud of them whether they would have won or lost," Molloy coach Danny Longo said. "Before the second overtime, I told them that we better not lose this game because we didn’t work hard enough. Lastly, the defense deserves a lot of credit, especially my goalkeeper, and it is crazy to think that four of my five defenders on the field tonight were freshmen.”