SCRANTON, Pa. – The fourth-seeded Moravian College women's soccer team fell to No. 1 The University of Scranton 1-0 in the Landmark Conference semifinals on Wednesday night at the Royals' Fitzpatrick Field.
The Royals scored in the game's 7th minute and held on for the final 83 minutes to knock the Greyhounds out of the Landmark playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.
Moravian found itself in a familiar situation trailing at Scranton. The Greyhounds were down two goals just two weeks ago on the same field, and ended up scoring two goals in the second half to force overtime and earn the draw.
Sophomore forward Micaela Kwochka led another second-half charge on Wednesday, when she took a pass from sophomore Catherine Lamplugh and took a low shot past the keeper. The shot bounced off the post and the equalizer continued to elude the Greyhounds.
"At half, we talked about how we weren't playing Moravian soccer," head coach Brienne Smith said. "It seemed like they were playing with more fire than we were. We talked about the early goal, and how we've played from that position before. I think the girls responded and came out fired up. We played with a lot of heart, and that's the story of this team. Every game this year, they were in it and they never stopped fighting. They never stop working for each other."
The Royals held a 9-7 advantage in shots in a game that was played primarily with midfield possession by both teams. Junior forward Kirsten Schall, senior midfielder Taylor DiSora and sophomore defender Taylor Blake took the Greyhounds' shots on goal in the closely contested semifinal. Sophomore goalkeeper Jacqueline Zalis made two saves in her first full match of the season.
"Their style of play is something we struggle with," Smith said. "It's so direct and they play a lot of balls over the top. Their front-runners are very fast and we struggle to possess and play our style on such a small, fast pitch."
When the final horn sounded at the end of regulation, a trio of Moravian seniors left the collegiate pitch as teammates for the final time. DiSora, midfielder/forward Caroline Clark and goalkeeper Genevieve Chaleff called it a career on Wednesday, and their legacies will not soon be forgotten.
"Genevieve is a fighter and has real passion and energy," Smith said of her goalkeeper. "She wears it on her sleeve. If she approaches life the way she approaches the game of soccer, she's going to have one heck of a career.
"Caroline has so much personality and is a real joy to be around," the head coach said. "There's never a dull moment and she's given us so many fun moments."
Smith, in her fourth year at the helm of the program, began her Moravian career when this group came in as freshmen. She said there are always tears when saying goodbye to a group of seniors, but this year was special. She barely got the words out when talking about DiSora, a co-captain.
"Taylor is a special kid," an emotional Smith said. "She's a genuine and sincere person who really loves life and loves her teammates, coaches and family. I think if everyone lived life like Paco, this world would be a much better place."
It was the fourth straight trip to the Landmark Conference tournament for the Greyhounds under Smith's direction.
Scranton will host No. 3 Drew University in the conference championship on Saturday.