Springfield, Mass. – November 4, 2012 - The Springfield College women's soccer team captured the 2012 New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Women's Soccer Championship on Sunday afternoon as it advanced past Wheaton College in penalty kicks. For her efforts over the weekend, junior defender Vicky DiNatale was named the Most Outstanding Player.
With the victory, Springfield is headed to the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championship for the fifth time in the last six years and for the third-consecutive season. The Pride own a record of 13-4-2, while the Lyons, who entered the game ranked 16th in the country, are now 16-1-6. Since Springfield’s 1-0 loss at Wheaton on October 2, the Pride has gone 7-0-2 in its last nine contests.
With the game gridlocked at 2-2 after regulation and a pair of overtimes, an automatic berth into the NCAA Championship would be decided on penalty kicks.
Wheaton, which advanced to Sunday's championship game by virtue of penalty kicks on Saturday, once again turned to keeper Ali Hinton for the shootout. Hinton responded with a huge save on Springfield's first kicker, DiNatale. Wheaton's Cassey Muse drilled the next shot, as did Springfield's Lauren Muser. Springfield goalie Erin Greenstein evened things with a tremendous diving save on Samantha Cronin, and then put the Pride up as she beat Hinton.
Lauren Corigliano scored next for Wheaton, as did the Pride's Kelly Haines. Kierstin Luber converted for the visitors, setting up Springfield's final shooter, Nina Vital. Vital, the Pride's leading scorer who did not play in the game due to an injury, blasted in a shot, setting up Greenstein's heroics. The senior keeper came up with another huge save on Wheaton's Jordan Muse, sealing Springfield's fourth NEWMAC Tournament Championship.
The Pride’s first goal of the game came at the 18:16 mark on a penalty kick. Springfield’s Jessica Miller was taken down in the box by Wheaton keeper Taylor Wilson after she delivered a centering pass in the box. DiNatale calmly stepped up and placed in her bid to give the hosts an early lead.
Springfield didn’t let up the offensive pressure and struck again just 1:41 later. Krissy Cicalis, starting for the first time this season, took a feed from Ashley Carresi and drilled a shot from 18 yards out that found the top shelf of the net.
Wheaton slowly began to mount its offensive pressure and finally broke through with a pair of quick strikes 1:44 apart to even the game at two.
With 15:30 remaining in the game, Cat Amick headed a Kristina Braga corner kick towards the net, which Tara Caney ran onto and slammed into the back of the net. The Lyons continue to carry the momentum and struck again in the 78th minute. Julia Cipriano was credited with an assist as she delivered a beautiful through ball to Cassey Muse. Muse shielded off her defender and carried the ball into the box before poking a shot into the bottom right corner.
Springfield had the best scoring chance in the first overtime period, and it came in the opening minute. However, Cicalis’s shot from 30 yards out sailed just over the cross bar as the teams headed into a second overtime session.
Wheaton nearly struck three minutes into the second overtime period after Muse fired a long ball to Braga, who broke free on the goal. After getting past Greenstein, Braga had a clean look at the goal, only to have DiNatale clear away the chance.
Springfield will find out who it plays in the upcoming national tournament during Monday's selection show, which airs at 1:30 pm on NCAA.com.