Arlington, Va. - The Penn State Harrisburg women's soccer team has finished off arguably the toughest road trip of this young programs history Friday night. The women played four conference road games in 10 days, traveled over 30 hours on a bus, and faced off against three of the strongest teams in the conference while doing so.
After facing off three of the top teams in the conference without success, Harrisburg was ready to go for the win in their Friday night lights atmosphere game located in view of our capitol city. The most prominent factor for both teams would be the elements. Playing on turf kept the game alive, but the downpour both teams would play in made for an exciting night of soccer.
The Lions opened up strong, making it a goal to not give up any early goals that have been a trend this road trip and making games difficult to come back from. Friday they were able to hold on and even create some offense early. Unfortunately, a missed goal kick called for a Saint's corner was the little bounce that the Saints needed to crack open the scoreless game in the 21st minute.
Harrisburg had been getting exposed on the wings early in the match, but the women made a nice adjustment on their own and fixed the problem which helped keep Marymount locked down for most of the second half. One exemption came when Chloe McAuliffe fought through the central defense to create a 1v1 opportunity that she put in the top corner in the 32nd minute.
The Blue and White had really started to push things to finish the half when a lightning strike slowed the team's momentum and forced a 30 minute hiatus from the match. Harrisburg could not find the net in the remaining minutes of the first and the game went to halftime 2-0 in Marymount's favor.
The second half brought opportunities on both sides of the ball. As the scoring chances came harder to come by, the tackling and fouls increased. With the combination of the weather and the ref allowing some interesting play to occur; the game felt more like a men's match by the end. Harrisburg did a great job to keep their composure and stay off the books not gathering any cards, but would have to accept the 2-0 result.
In the end, the Lions played well, but lacked the spark or a special play to score on the offensive side. Defensively the freshmen duo of Nicole Lutrell (Hershey, Pa/ Hershey) and Nicole Horst (Mt. Pleasant Mills, Pa. / Midd-West) played extremely well at the outside backs; especially with the early adjustment they made after getting exposed some early on. Diandra Soto (Mountville, Pa. / Milton Hershey) and Christina Martinez (Brookhaven, Pa. / St. Anthony's) had to watch their temperature gauge at times Friday, but overall played tough and brought some well needed intensity to the match.
The Lions now return home where they have had a much better success rate with a home record of 4-2. They will face off in a non-conference rivalry game against Lancaster Bible Chargers Tuesday, also the team who sent Harrisburg home last season in the NEAC conference semi-finals.