Nov. 4, 2011
BALTIMORE - The Loyola University Maryland women's soccer team advanced to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship Game for the 17th time in school history with a 5-0 victory Friday night over Niagara University in the MAAC Semifinals at Ridley Athletic Complex.
Loyola will play top-seeded Marist College on Sunday, 1 p.m., at Ridley for the MAAC title and right to represent the league in the NCAA College Cup. The Red Foxes (12-5-2) advanced to the championship game after edging No. 4 seed Fairfield University 3-2 in penalty kicks following a 1-1 tie in double overtime.
Rene became the first Greyhound other than Schiro to score multiple goals in a game since Lea Day accomplished the feat in November 2008 when she tallied a pair in the first half to give Loyola a 2-0 lead at the break.
"I just really wanted to help the team out and come out strong," said Rene. "We wanted to prove that we're a team to be reckoned with in this tournament."
Rene got the Greyhounds on the board early in the contest, heading home a goal in the 14th minute of action. All-MAAC Rookie Team selection Kelly Santangelo started the play, sending a corner kick that went to the far post and was headed to the front of the net by Kelsey Donohue. Rene finished the play with a header from six yards out.
The Greyhounds struck again off a corner kick less than 12 minutes later. This time, the All-MAAC First Team defender collected a ball that was mishandled by the Purple Eagles' goalkeeper and finished it into the top-side netting.
"We're thrilled with Kelsey's play and her leadership on the field," said head coach Katherine Remy Vettori. "She's made an incredible impact. I'm very proud of her both offensively and defensively with how well she's playing."
The Greyhounds did not let up in the second half, adding three more goals to clinch the victory.
"At halftime we talked about not taking our foot off the pedal," Rene commented. "Every soccer player knows that, 2-0, is a very dangerous score, so we knew we had to get another one to keep them out of the game."
Schiro added to the Greyhounds' lead in the 54th minute. She was taken down in the box, a foul for which Niagara's Julianne Viviano was given a yellow card, and Schiro was awarded a penalty kick.
The penalty was saved by Niagara's Gabrielle Wilson, but the 2011 MAAC Offensive Player of the Year followed her shot and buried a goal, her 12th of the season to put Loyola up 3-0.
Schiro added a second goal just over five minutes later, again tallying one off the rebound of her own shot. She headed an attempt that went over Wilson's head and off the right post and cleaned up the loose ball for her second of the night.
Her 13 goals this season rank fourth on the Loyola single-season scoring list. In 2010, she scored 15 to tie for second with Ali Andrzjewski who has the single-season record with 18 in 2004.
The Greyhounds outshot the Purple Eagles, 13-9. Didi Haracic played the first half in goal for Loyola and made one save, while Danielle Ippolito tallied three during the second 45 minutes. The two combined for the team's fifth shutout of the season. The Greyhound keepers have not allowed more than one goal in a contest since October 9 when they allowed two against Niagara.
Vettori was very pleased with the effort.
"We've struggled with playing a full 90 at that level thus far this season," said the fourth-year head coach. "To put it together is a great statement. I'm very proud of them."
The win moved the Greyhounds to 22-0-1 all-time against Niagara, notching six-straight wins against the Purple Eagles. Loyola also improved to 7-3 all-time in MAAC Championship games in Baltimore.
Loyola lost to Marist during the team's regular-season meeting, a 1-0 overtime setback on Sunday, October 16, at Ridley.
The Greyhounds will play in the title game at home for the first time since 1997.
"It's been our goal since the first day of preseason to be here," Vettori remarked. "To be able to play at home and have the ability to go on to the NCAAs has been our goal. That fact that it's at home, we're going to enjoy every second of this ride."