Nov. 11, 2007
Poughkeepsie, N.Y. - Lea Day and Christina Gomez each scored first half goals as Loyola build a 2-nil lead and held on to win the 2007 MAAC Championship Game, 2-0, at Marist on Sunday afternoon. The Greyhounds, who picked up their ninth conference title, advance to their sixth NCAA Tournament in the last eight years.
"It is a great accomplishment to get back to the NCAA Tournament," Head Coach John Byford said. "I am so happy for the players, especially our seniors and juniors who have been disappointed (with semifinals losses) in the last two years. We are looking forward to playing in the NCAA Tournament against whoever we draw."
Loyola nearly scored in the opening minute of the match when Day beat Marist's charging keeper to the ball and fired a shot from the top of the box. Her attempt sailed high, but the established pace favored the `Hounds.
Loyola would maintain possession for much of the first half with solid scoring opportunities like sophomore Colleen Kinealy's blast in the 15th minute. Kinealy beat her mark and put a shot on goal that was saved with an acrobatic move from Marist's Allison Lane to keep the match knotted at 0-0.
The two teams, who posted a scoreless tie at Loyola on October 28, played 140 minutes this season without registering a goal - and in a span of 70 seconds - the Greyhounds scored twice to build a two goal advantage.
The first goal was set up with a beautiful cross from freshman Lina Staropoli. Her volley was placed at the near post, where Day headed it home. The score came at 30:14, giving Day her sixth goal of the season.
"Lina beat her player down the sideline and just made a great cross to the box," Byford said. "Lea did a great job of finishing it for the goal."A foul in the box at 31:24 set up a golden opportunity for the Greyhounds to add to their lead. Sophomore Christina Gomez did just that with a penalty kick and Loyola led 2-nil at the half.
Marist battled back in the second half with the better of the scoring opportunities, but the Loyola defense, behind MAAC Defensive Player of the Year Brittany Henderson, remained strong.
Henderson made five saves in the win while the Greyhound defense posted its 10th shutout of the year. The win improves Loyola to 10-5-5 this season and to 22-4-6 in MAAC Tournament play.
The 2007 NCAA Tournament Selection Show will air on ESPNews this Monday, November 12 at 8 p.m. First and Second Round matches will take place on November 16 and 18 on campus sites.