The Mercyhurst College women’s soccer team had a pair of tough contests this past week.
On Wednesday, Oct. 28, the Lakers welcomed Slippery Rock University for the final regular season home game. This game would hold a great deal of significance within the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, as a win would mathematically eliminate Slippery Rock from post-season play.
Slippery Rock started the game with an attacking formation, playing three up front. This worked to some extent, as they pressured the Mercyhurst goal early on and generated six scoring chances.
It was the Lakers, though, who had the best chances in the form of a senior Jamie Laturell shot that rebounded off the upright. Both defenses held firm through the first half, leaving the teams in a deadlock at the break.
The second half yielded much of the same, as both teams went in search of the crucial score. It became more evident that the scorer of the first goal would swing the momentum truly in their team’s favor and that the defense would take care of business after that.
In minute 60, the Lakers found the breakthrough. Senior Jessie Roberts fed freshman Danielle Braun, who smartly turned and fired a shot toward the goal. The ball squeaked under the crossbar to give Mercyhurst a 1-0 lead it would not relinquish.
With four minutes left on the clock, junior keeper Rachel Griepsma made two point-blank saves to record the shutout for the Lakers.
The ladies then traveled to Indiana, Pa., for what would eventually turn out to be a dress rehearsal for the PASC tournament. Their opponents for the day were Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
In difficult conditions, the Lakers found themselves 1-0 down after 28 minutes when a loose ball in the box found the net for IUP. Mercyhurst pushed on but could not find an equalizer in the first half.
With the wind at its back, Mercyhurst gained a territorial advantage, and the pressure paid off in the 70th minute when a sophomore Renai Medeiros pass found senior Taylor Hilinski. Hilinski nipped the ball just before the keeper to level the sides.
The tally gave Hilinski a team-leading 14 goals this season.
With just under five minutes remaining it was the Crimson Hawks who counter-attacked, effectively leading to a goal. As Mercyhurst committed many of their players forward, IUP struck again with three minutes to go, sealing the game at 3-1.
“Getting the win against Slippery Rock was huge as it left us in a tie for the lead in the division. We weren’t able to keep the momentum going at IUP, but we will be back next week to put that right,” junior defender Jamie Schroter said.