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Women’s soccer’s historical season ends in Sweet 16

Story first appeared on edinboronow.com on Nov. 20, 2015 and in the Edinboro University Spectator on Dec. 3, 2015.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Edinboro’s last three matches took more than 90 minutes to crown a victor.

Friday’s battle ended that streak and the Scots’ season.

Sixth-seeded East Stroudsburg defeated fourth-seeded Edinboro in the 2015 Atlantic Region Championship, 2-0, on Friday afternoon at the University of Bridgeport in the Sweet 16 round of the 2016 NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Tournament.

The loss ended the women’s soccer team’s 2015 season with a record of 15-8-1 overall.

Head coach Gary Kagiavas’s squad controlled the ball early in the match, but the momentum switched ESU’s way after a goal by Brielyn Hackett in the 16th minute of play gave the Warriors an early 1-0 lead in the match. The junior forward dribbled through a pair of defenders and rolled a shot past Sarah Baskey into the back left corner for her fifth goal of the season.

The two-time defending PSAC champions controlled the ball for most of the remainder of the half, but Boro did have its chances as the Fighting Scots fired off six corner kicks and six shots in the first 45 minutes of play.

“It always comes down to execution,” Kagiavas said. “It’s like in the PSAC championship they had just one opportunity and capitalized. I think we had some good chances and if you don’t score you aren’t going to win the game. I think we had four or five chances, but we didn’t capitalize. If you don’t score you aren’t going to win.”

Boro battled early on in the second-half, firing off five more shots throughout the final half of play, but East Stroudsburg was able to take advantage of its six second-half shots and have one find the back of the net.

Sophomore Sammi Ortiz scored her third goal of the season as she curved in a shot from the left side of the field inside the far post, past the outstretched, diving Baskey. The goal made it 2-0 ESU in the 77th minute.

The Warriors pushed the ball deep into Edinboro territory for most of the afternoon and fired off 14 total shots. However, the Scots allowed just two goals as the defense stood tall, which has been the underlying theme of the season, according to Kagiavas.

“My defense has been carrying us all year,” the 20th year head coach said. “To be fair, their second goal came when we took another defender off in place of a forward in hopes of getting the equalizer. With 17 minutes to go we needed that goal and made that adjustment. Five or six minutes later they scored the second goal. You could see [the defense] was tired, but they played through it. I’m very, very proud of this team and this defense.”

Sophomore Jules Harris was solid in goal for East Stroudsburg as she recorded eight saves in route to the shutout. The Orangeburg, New York native made “two good saves” in the second half, according to Kagiavas.

With minutes remaining in the match, Kagiavas substituted in Allison Oathout and Kayla Briggs, both of whom are seniors and saw their collegiate soccer careers come to a close with Alexis Becker, Reilee DuPratt and Jansen Hartmann.

Despite the season coming to a close on Sunday, the loss wrapped up the best season in school history for the Edinboro women’s soccer team. The 15 wins tied the school record for most in a season, set by the 2011 squad and the ladies qualified for the first ever PSAC Championship match.

Additionally, the advancement past Charleston (WV) on penalty kicks in the opening match of the NCAA tournament was the first time a Boro women’s soccer team has made it past its first NCAA game and the 2-1 win against Gannon in the second round was the first NCAA playoff win.

“Last year’s team put out a challenge for this year’s team,” Kagiavas said. “Saying what we did and that they need to better it. These kids took the challenge and they committed themselves to playing and being better teammates. It just worked out really well. I’m really, really proud of these kids and it all comes from leadership. I hope our team realized how important our leadership was and all the selflessness of the kids and the commitment they all made to being better.”

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