EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. — West Virginia Wesleyan College came one shot away from advancing to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament on Sunday.
The second-round match between the Atlantic Region’s second seed, East Stroudsburg, and the No. 3 Lady Bobcats went the distance, with neither team finding the back of the net over the 90 minutes of regulation play nor an addition 20 minutes of golden goal overtime.
That set up the fateful penalty kicks segment, in which East Stroudsburg claimed 4-3 to advance in the tournament.
“When you face a great team, there is the possibility of pressure being put on you at any time, and I thought our girls did a great job of rising to the task at a critical point in the match,” Wesleyan coach Patrick Holguin said. “It was a hard fought game on both sides and it could have went either way.”
Holguin also spoke highly of his seniors, who leave the program after amassing a 60-11-11 record over their four seasons.
“This class has meant a lot to the program,” Holguin said. “Their work ethic and commitment has produced the success we have enjoyed... they are graduating with three trips to NCAA regionals.”
Wesleyan opened tournament play by blanking Gannon, 2-0, on Friday afternoon. It was the 14th shutout of the season for the Lady Bobcats.
Natalie Prater produced the first goal of the match, scoring from yards out on a free kick at the 23:28 mark of the first half.
Carolyn Saulle provided the insurance goal, lofting a one-timer from just inside the box. Her goal was culmination of a perfectly placed feed from the midfield area from Kelsie Hibbs. The tally came at the 55:02 mark.
Ashlee Schumacher played in goal in the first half, while Chelsea Hubner played the second half. Hubner registered a critical save off a GU penalty kick at the 65-minute mark.
“We won it again with our defense,” Holguin said. “We made some plays back there, and we had some good saves with our keepers. We are blessed to have two standout goalkeepers, and they both came up big today.”
Senior Mary Cooper, the MEC Defensive Player of the Year, recorded another stellar day for the defense.
“We were really in sync with our back line and in every area of the field,” Cooper said. “We did a great job of covering for each other and when Chelsea (Hubner) made that save, it really got us all hyped. It was a good team victory for us all around.”