POMONA, NJ-The York College women’s soccer team put together another outstanding effort to outlast Virginia Wesleyan 1-0 in the second round of the 2007 NCAA Division III Women’s Soccer Tournament in Pomona, NJ. The victory advances the Spartans to their first-ever Sweet Sixteen which they will host on Saturday, November 17 and Sunday, November 18.
York improves to 15-5-3 overall while the Marlins have their outstanding season come to a close with a mark of 15-2-4. The Spartan victory snapped Virginia Wesleyan’s 17 match unbeaten streak. The 15 wins for the Spartans also establish a new school record for wins in a season, breaking the previous record of 14 which was set in 2001 and again in 2006.
The Marlins carried play in the opening stages of the game as they pressured the Spartans, pushing the green and white back into their defensive end. Despite the Marlins’ pressure, the Spartan defense stood strong and kept Virginia Wesleyan off the board. York regained their shape midway through the first half and began to even out the play. The remainder of the first half, the teams split the play and shared momentum. The Marlins held a 5-3 edge in total shots with both teams posting two shots on goal in the opening stanza.
The green and white came out of the break an inspired squad. With the Marlins’ defense having posted 12 consecutive shutouts, the Spartans needed a break. The green and white got that break in the 55th minute as standout freshman Steph Mergler (Street, Md./North Harford) took a shot outside the box. Mergler’s initial shot was blocked but the heady freshman collected the loose ball, drove to the endline and fed a beautiful cross into the box. The cross settled in front of the box where junior Jill Stanley (Stewartstown, Pa./Kennard-Dale) found herself with nothing but an open net. The forward calmly drove the ball into the back of the cage for the game-winning goal. The goal was Stanley’s eighth of the year
The Spartans spend the remaining 35 minutes of the game fighting off the Marlins suddenly resurgent offensive attack. Virginia Wesleyan’s best chance to tie the game came with just under 15 minutes remaining in regulation. The Marlins had a loose ball inside the Spartans’ box and the right post was uncovered. The Marlins’ shot sailed over the upper right 90 and the tie was averted.
The green and white continued to battle in the last ten minutes as they did enough to push forward offensively to allow the defense to regain their shape and keep the Marlins from notching the equalizer.
The Marlins finished the game outshooting York 9-8 but the Spartans had a 5-3 edge in shots on goal. The Marlins also held a commanding 7-2 advantage in corner kicks.
Junior goalie Meaghan Cahill (Crofton, Md./Arundel) pitched another shutout as she recorded three saves. Lindsey Williams recorded four saves as she suffered the loss.
Spartan head coach Vicki Sterner was almost speechless after the win.
“I could not be more proud of our players and our program,” stated Sterner. “The determination and effort that our team displayed today was incredible. To beat a final four team from last year after they beat us early in the season was sweet. It was an incredible weekend.”
The Spartans will face Messiah College in the Sweet 16 at home on Saturday, November 17. Game time will be announced on Monday. Joining the Spartans and Falcons at the sectional will be Wittenberg and Ithaca.