Salisbury, Md. – The Penn State Harrisburg women's soccer team battled for 90 minutes on the road in their first ever Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) playoff game Saturday October 28th. The Salisbury Seagulls hosted the contest as the #3 seed.
Salisbury also hosted and won the regular season match up with the Lions earlier in the year. Harrisburg made adjustments since then and felt good about their chances coming into the game. Both teams brought a fast pace and intensity to the opening minutes. Unfortunately for the Lions, the Seagulls capitalized on a through ball that found leading scorer Ruthie Lucas in the 19th minute.
Erica Hile nearly evened the game a few minutes later, but unfortunately hit the bottom of the crossbar, unclear if the ball had crossed the line. Wind was a big factor in the game and Salisbury took advantage of the wind in the first half. Eventually they were able to break the Lady Lions and score a second goal before halftime.
Penn State was happy with their play in the first half, but disappointed with the score line. The Lions started the second half aggressive and pushing forward. This helped to create a multitude of chances early on. Eventually Harrisburg found their rhythm and took control of the game with the wind at their back. They served up chance after chance, but could not find the net.
As the clock wound down, the Lions felt more and more dangerous as they pushed numbers forward. The goal felt imminent and then in the 79th minute a Salisbury midfield was red carded giving the Lions a numbers advantage as well.
It felt as if the story book finish was about to be written, just needing a goal to get everything started. Then in the 85th minute, the shorthanded Seagull's finalized their trip to the CAC semi's with a counter attacking goal. The game finished 3-0, but Harrisburg felt good about their first trip the CAC playoffs and played all 90 minutes tough. The Lions outshot the Seagull's 18-14 and held a 3-2 corner kick advantage.
"I am extremely proud of the women's effort and work rate today. They played hard every minute and followed the game plan well. We all thought the goal was coming, but Salisbury fought hard to hold on to the lead they earned by scoring on their chances. Coach Clay continued with, "Despite it being an amazing season, I hope our team gets one more chance to show how great we can be in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) tournament."
Penn State has a light week as they train to stay sharp, but await the announcement of the ECAC tournament pool. Based on the current list of applicants, the Lions are optimistic they will have a seat at the table, but won't know for sure until Monday November 6th.