MIDDLETOWN, Pa.- Penn State Harrisburg's strong 2011 regular season (9-4) earned the Lions the number three seed in this year's North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) championship tournament. That seeding gave the blue and white home field advantage for their first round game against conference foe SUNYIT on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Unfortunately for the visitors, the Lions refused to play the role of good host. Freshman Tina Martino (Essington, PA/Interboro) scored the decisive goal midway through the first half and the ladies played solid defense the rest of the way to best the Wildcats 1-0 and advance to the NEAC semifinals.
The game's lone goal came when freshman forward Nikki Francis (Pottstown, PA/Owen J. Roberts) drove the ball down the right sideline and made a pass through traffic to senior captain Jessie Manion (North Wales, PA/North Penn). Manion found Martino in front of the SUNYIT net and the converted goalie put her shot past the outstretched arms of Wildcat keeper Aubrey Campbell (Auburn, NY/Auburn) to notch the game-winning score with 23:54 remaining in the first period. The score was Martino's second of the 2011 campaign.
Penn State Harrisburg outshot their opponents 7-4 while SUNYIT committed 11 fouls to the Lions' six. Most importantly, blue and white goalie Janelle Hammond (New Cumberland, PA/Cedar Cliff) made three crucial saves to preserve the shutout and help send her squad to Lancaster for the championship weekend's final four.
The win was Penn State Harrisburg's second over the Wildcats this year. The first, a 2-0 shutout, came on Sunday, Oct. 2. In that match, it was Francis and the now injured Alli Trutt (Halifax, PA/Halifax) who notched a goal apiece. Lindsey Haldeman (Grantville, PA/Hershey Christian) added an assist. In the two contests, the Lions impressively outshot SUNYIT 29-7 and Hammond allowed no goals.
Penn State Harrisburg will now face Penn State Abington in the tournament semifinals this Saturday, Nov. 5, at Lancaster Bible College. The match gets underway at 2:00 PM. The Lions dropped a close 2-1 game to Abington in the teams' only meeting of 2011 earlier this season.