MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – Despite allowing two early goals in the team's 3-0 loss to Mary Washington on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 19, Penn State Harrisburg played one of its stronger games since starting Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) play late last month.
The visiting Eagles netted their first goal off a Blue & White error less than a minute into the contest and added a second 13 minutes later. Failing to get a shot off in the first half, the Lions ramped up the offensive pressure after the break. Unfortunately, the ladies were never able to convert their chances into points.
Mary Washington's initial score came when Penn State Harrisburg goalkeeper Mackenzie Gates (Harrisburg, Pa. / Central Dauphin) mishandled a loose ball that found the turf. The Lions failed to clear the bouncing ball and the Eagles' Jessica Bednarcik made them pay by simply booting her shot past the jumble of bodies gathered in front of the Blue & White goal line to make it 1-0 just 51 seconds into the match.
The ladies' deficit doubled when Bednarcik added her second goal of the day off an assist from Allie Branum at the 13:48 mark of the first half.
From there, Penn State Harrisburg's defense had to work to keep the visitors from adding any more points to the board but the unit proved up to the task as the Lions forced three Mary Washington shots wide of the net and Gates stopped four more.
The Blue & White showed signs of life offensively just moments into the second half when sophomore Mae-Lynn Gonzalez (Blakeslee, Pa. / Pocono Mountain West) crossed a ball from the left sideline and connected with fellow sophomore Fay Ansary (Hummelstown, Pa. / Hershey). Ansary gathered the ball in stride while streaking down the middle of the field but she was turned away when Mary Washington goalkeeper Sara Armor made the save.
Another Penn State Harrisburg sophomore in Rachel Shetler (Pequea, Pa. / Penn Manor) also vaulted to life following the break. Head Coach Adam Clay pushed her up to the midfield from her defensive starting spot and Shetler got off two accurate shots that required Armor to make plays on.
Though they showed off their resiliency, the Lions found themselves facing an even larger deficit when Mary Washington's Erin Reynolds scored her team-leading 12th goal of the season off an assist from Lizzie Weaver, making it 3-0 Eagles in the game's 63rd minute.
During a three-minute span late in the match, Penn State Harrisburg freshman Kelsey Crum (Biglerville, Pa. / Bendersville), sophomore Kristin Peckman (Chambersburg, Pa. / James Buchanan) and Shetler all got shots off. Unfortunately for the hometown fans in attendance, none found the back of the net.
The Lions were outshot 26-5 on the day and despite allowing three goals, Gates made 12 saves and upped her CAC-leading total to 130 for the year.
The loss dropped Penn State Harrisburg to 6-9 on the season and despite knocking on the door in recent outings, the Lions remain winless in conference play (0-5.) The ladies will look to pick up that elusive victory in their next contest this Wednesday night, Oct. 23 when they host another CAC opponent in Wesley.
Also held on Saturday afternoon was the women's soccer team's senior day ceremony. Honored during the event were Kara Hoy (Camp Hill, Pa. / Camp Hill) and Christine Cesavice (Lewiston, Pa. / Indian Valley).
One of this season's team captains, Hoy has been a staple of the women's soccer squad the last four years, playing in 69 games; the most of any player in program history. Her 53 total points puts her fourth on the Lions' all-time list and her 21 career goals is the third-highest total in school-history. During her time at Penn State Harrisburg, she has racked up 11 assists and scored five game-winning goals.
"She is obviously a great soccer player but what many don't see is the effort she puts in off the field," said Clay about Hoy's contribution to the program. "Whether working, getting in the gym or succeeding in the classroom, Kara has excelled without ever making excuses. I am most proud of how Kara has grown into a true leader during her senior season."
A military veteran and mother of three, Cesavice joined the Penn State Harrisburg women's soccer team this fall. She immediately helped add valuable depth to the Lions' roster and was called upon early and often, playing in 11 games this season.
"Christine has brought a vast amount of experience and knowledge to our squad," said Clay when asked about Cesavice. "She has done well on the field while leading by example off of it. Her team first attitude and work ethic will be hard to match in the years to come."