Westfield State advances on PKs
Owls win shootout, reach second round for first time
HOBOKEN, N.J. -- Westfield State advanced in the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time in school history by eliminating Stevens Institute of Technology in penalty kicks on Saturday.
Westifield, 15-3-2, played to a 1-1 deadlock with the host school Stevens Institute (14-3-4) in 110 minutes of action. The Owls then calmly controlled the penalty kicks, outscoring the Ducks 5-3.
After a scoreless first half, Stevens took a 1-0 lead in the 62nd minute on a free kick from 23 yards by Kathleen Schuckers. Westfield junior standout Kayley Miller netted the equalizer in the 76th minute when she scored an unassisted goal off a failed clear attempt.
“Stevens had some big, strong players -- 5-10, 5-11, six feet,” Westfield State head coach Todd Ditmar said. “But we thought we could play with them.”
Westfield took the first penalty kick and freshman Ashleigh Chretien gave the Owls a 1-0 lead. The Stevens goalie got a piece of Chretien's shot but the ball rolled inside the left post.
On Stevens' first attempt, Caitlyn Labonte's shot was no good as it hit the left post.
Both teams scored on their next three attempts. Miller and junior Colleen Bazinet coolly hit the back of the net on the right side and freshman Maggie Kerr duplicated the feat on the left side.
Katelyn Wood -- the third freshmen to take a penalty kick -- clinched the game for the Owls when she calmly placed the ball in the back of the net inside the right post.
“We had two non-starters [Kerr, Wood] in there for penalty kicks but we practiced [penalty kicks] all week and those were our top five,” Ditmar said. Also, the Owls played without standout junior midfielder/forward Leann Rivard, who is sidelined with a season-ending injury.
Stevens outshot Westfield 30-17 and Owl sophomore goalie Jess Habif stood out with 15 saves, including six in overtime.
“Habif was outstanding, she made some incredible saves,” Ditmar said.
Ironically, freshman Nicky Stasz replaced Habif in goal for the penalty kicks.
“Nicky is better at penalty kicks than Jess,” Ditmar said. “We even talked about it [prior to the penalty kicks] and Jess, even though she was outstanding during the game, said Nicky should be in there.”