2009 Women's Soccer: One For The Record Books

Nov. 30, 2009

BALTIMORE - The 2009 edition of the Loyola women's soccer team got off to a solid start against a tough non-conference schedule and concluded the season as one of the best teams in program history. After getting off to a 4-4-2 start in non-conference play, which included eight games on the road, the Greyhounds went a perfect 9-0-0 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, went on to win their tenth MAAC title and advanced to their seventh NCAA College Cup.  The Greyhounds finished the season with a 15-5-3 overall record, the second-most wins in program-history.

Tessa McClenahan was named the MAAC Rookie of the Week on August 31

Quick Start
In her second season at Loyola, head coach Katherine Remy Vettori and the Greyhounds took being picked second in the MAAC Preseason Poll personally, and made it their mission to win the conference outright.

Thanks in large part to Tessa McClenahan, Lowe's Senior CLASS Award finalist Theresa Ferraina and a stingy defense, Loyola shut out Mount St. Mary's and NCAA Tournament qualifier High Point to start the season at 2-0. After just falling short to Atlantic Coast Conference member, Wake Forest, who advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, McClenahan and Ferraina won the first set of MAAC weekly honors. (See photos from Mount St. Mary's here).

Before playing at home for the first time, the `Hounds faced another tough contest in Maryland, Loyola's third-straight opponent who later earned an NCAA bid. On the strength of goals by Ferraina and Christina Gomez, the Greyhounds got off to a quick 1-nil advantage and tied the game at two before falling late.

The Home Opener at 89:59
Loyola faced a hot Boston University Terriers team in its home-opener on September 4 and did so in dramatic fashion. The Terriers, who were seeking their fifth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, a feat they later accomplished, took a 1-0 lead with just over 12 minutes remaining in regulation. The `Hounds then hounded the Terriers for possession, and got off a series of shots late in regulation. Then, with just over ten seconds remaining in the second half, Loyola earned a corner kick, which junior Kelly Farrell would take. After servicing a corner, the goalkeeper would punch the ball away, only to be held in by freshman Lauren Norcia. Norcia played the ball upward in the box to a leaping Heather Cooke, who headed the ball into the front of the box.

Christina Gomez scored one of the most dramatic goals in Loyola history at 89:59 vs. Boston University

And, with less than a second remaining, Gomez was in perfect position and tied the game at 89:59 to send the game into overtime. (See the last-second goal sequence here). Neither team could muster a goal in the extra stanza as the battle ended in a 1-1 tie.

Two days later, Loyola was at home once again, and played another thriller, this time earning a victory in overtime. After Gomez tied the game at one 16 minutes in, freshman Nichole Schiro scored her first of a team-leading nine goals this season to give the Greyhounds the lead. After allowing Lafayette to tie the game five minutes later, the matchup went into overtime. Seven minutes into the extra stanza, Farrell would once again take a corner kick for Loyola; however, this time extra dramatic effect was not necessary. The service by Farrell was played perfectly, and sophomore Maggie Ebner skied for the ball and headed the ball into the back of the net for the 3-2 victory.

Wrapping Up Non-Conference Play
Loyola continued another road trip following a pair of tough road losses to face American University and Old Dominion in its final non-conference weekend. The Greyhounds' two-leading scorers, Schiro and Ferraina hooked up for the game-winner at AU as Schiro knocked in her first of five game-winners for Loyola. Gomez would add another goal for insurance just minutes later. Against a tough Monarchs team, Schiro and Ferraina would get together again with the help of junior Lina Staropoli as Loyola earned a draw to close out non-conference competition.

Little did the Greyhounds know that this weekend was the start of something special.

The Kelly Kelly Connection
Loyola opened MAAC play on the road for the fifth-straight game in upstate New York, taking on the Purple Eagles of Niagara and the Canisius Golden Griffins, two teams the `Hounds would face later in the season. The Kelly Kelly connection of junior Kelly Thomas and Kelly Farrell had a big weekend for the Greyhounds as Thomas recorded the game-tying goal against Niagara, and then played a corner kick to Ebner for the game-winner with just 11 minutes remaining. Two days later, Thomas added another assist on Schiro's game-tying goal and Farrell would convert on a 35-yard shot for the game-winner.

Kelly Thomas recorded a single-season record eight assists in 2009

Thomas would continue her hot streak the following weekend, in its MAAC home-opener against Rider. After going scoreless with the Broncs in the first half, Loyola took the lead just minutes into the second period. Staropoli controlled the ball in the middle of the field and played a pass wide to Thomas. Thomas then serviced the ball into the box where Schiro was waiting and converted with her second game-winning goal of the year. Despite the victory, much was to be concerned as senior back Amanda Meehan went down with an injury, but she would return shortly and came through big when it mattered most.

Clinching The Top Seed
Despite starting conference play unbeaten and untied at 3-0-0, Loyola would go on a tough four-game stretch that would eventually award the Greyhounds with the top seed in the conference championships. As they had all season long, Schiro and Ferraina showed up big against Marist and Siena for the game-winners in back-to-back 1-nil victories. Emerging from the crowd, however, was junior Taylor Santypal, who delivered perfect passes for the assist on both game-winning goals.

After a season-long three-game home stand, Loyola went back on the road for a rain-soaked weekend at Iona and Fairfield. The weather did not stand in the `Hounds' way at Iona, as the offense, which had been quiet lately, exploded for a season-high five goals against the Gaels. All five goals were scored by five different players as Ferraina scored the game-winner off a Schiro assist. Thomas would come through with her second three-point game with a goal and an assist. Also, a pair of youngsters converted in the end with their first collegiate points as Keri Iheagwara scored her first collegiate goal off an assist by Baltimore's own Gianna Mangione.

Fairfield was the last mountain Loyola had to climb in order to win its second straight regular season title. The Stags beat the Greyhounds the year before in the MAAC Championship Game earning a NCAA Tournament bid and Loyola was hungry for some revenge. Just 25 minutes in, Staropoli received a pass from Schiro, and from about 25-yards out, she blistered a shot at the goal, which went off the goalkeeper's hands for the score. Fairfield would tie the game at one early in the second half, as Loyola had some trouble solving Stags' goalkeeper Bridget Nerich, who recorded a team-record 14 saves.

Once again, Loyola went into overtime, and once again, the always reliable Nichole Schiro showed her athleticism with a header off a pass from Norcia.

The victory over Fairfield was Loyola's seventh straight win and after victories over Saint Peter's and Manhattan on senior day, the `Hounds extended that streak to nine, and entered the MAAC Championships on an 11-game unbeaten streak at 10-0-1.

Ferraina closed out her career with 65 career points, which is third all-time at Loyola.

Great Ending To A Great Career
Prior to the start of the regular season finale against Manhattan on October 25, eight seniors were recognized prior to the game and all eight started in the matchup. The only score of the game came in the 35th minutes as the future and two of the most prolific scorers in team history combined for the game-winner. Gomez sent a pass to Schiro on the right wing, who then crossed a pass to Ferraina for the score in her final home appearance at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field. (See Senior Day photos here).

Laundry List of Accolades
Finishing the regular season is bound to help individuals receive individual recognition and that proved true as nine Greyhounds were named to All-Conference Teams. Headlining the list was Ferraina, who was named the conference's Offensive Player of the Year after scoring six goals and three assists for 15 points in the regular season. Vettori, who led the `Hounds to another beaten record in conference play, was subsequently named the Anaconda Sports MAAC Coach of the Year. Senior goalkeeper Brittany Henderson was also named the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year after recording a league-high nine shutouts to go with a 0.81 goals against average.

Heather Cooke was a first-team all-conference selection in 2009

Along with Ferraina and Henderson, Cooke and Staropoli were also named to the first-team, while Farrell and Gomez earned second-team recognition. The freshman trio of McClenahan, Norcia and Schiro were selected to the All-Rookie team. Greyhounds' women's soccer players also proved to be "true" student-athletes as 11 players were named to the MAAC All-Academic Team, which requires sophomore standing, while maintaining a 3.20 cumulative grade point average. Among those recognized were Julianne Bausch, Kim Byrnes, Heather Cooke, First -Team Academic All-American Theresa Ferraina, Christina Gomez, Academic All-District selection Colleen Kinealy, Amanda Meehan, Taylor Santypal, Rachel Shuck, Academic All-District selection Lina Staropoli and Andrea Toro.

A "Disney Script" at Disney
Loyola had to overcome much adversity at the MAAC Championships in order to earn its seventh bid to the NCAA College Cup. Freshman goalkeeper Danielle Ippolito was thrusted into the starting lineup for the second time of the season. And, in pregame warm-ups prior to the quarterfinal matchup vs. Manhattan, she came down with a knee injury, but toughed it out and played every minute of the conference tournament.

The Jaspers, behind leading scorer Caroline Morse, took an early 1-0 advantage just three minutes into the game. Trailing against a conference opponent for the third time of the season, Loyola bounced right back with a game-tying score 15 minutes later by Schiro off a Thomas assist. The assist was Thomas' eighth of the season, and tied her with several others, including Ferraina and Staropoli for the Loyola single-season assist record.

Neither team could score for the remainder of the half or the second stanza, and went into extra sessions. After getting out shot 5-2 in overtime, Ippolito kept the `Hounds alive with a pair of saves before heading into penalty kicks. In the sixth round of penalty kicks, Manhattan's Jill Beauchamp came up, but was blanked by a diving Ippolito for the save, giving the Greyhounds the opportunity for the game-winner. Meehan, who went down with an injury earlier in the season and was yellow-carded earlier in the game, was whom Vettori called upon, and the senior did not disappoint, blasting a shot into the back of the net. High-powered Canisius, who the Greyhounds struggled with on the road earlier in the year, was the next foe for Loyola in the MAAC Semifinals. It was the second straight season the two teams faced off in the Semi's. After falling behind early for the second straight game, and the second time of the season against the Griffins, the Greyhounds were forced to come from behind again.

Gianna Mangione was named the MAAC Championships MVP

A pair of freshman hooked up for the game-winner as a five-foot-nine McClenahan headed a ball skyward toward the box. Mangione then used all of her five-foot-three frame to head the ball into the net for the game-tying score late in the first half. The Charm City native, Mangione, was also involved in the game-winner, but the `Hounds received a lucky bounce much to the dismay of Canisius. After Mangione serviced a pass into the box from 25-yards out, the ball ricocheted off a defender in the left side of the box and rolled past the goalkeeper on the right side of the goal. The score would prove to not be a factor as Ferraina would score eight minutes later for her 25th career goal off an assist by Farrell.

The championship game would feature another team the Greyhounds came from behind against earlier in the season, the Niagara Purple Eagles. Once again, Loyola fell behind early, but for the first time all season, the Greyhounds fell behind by two and trailed 2-0 after one half of play. Led by its seniors, Loyola took a flurry of shots in the second half, outshooting Niagara 13-5 in the stanza. At 61:07, Mangione was fouled inside the box, stopping the clock as the Greyhounds were awarded a penalty shot. Gomez would convert on the one-on-one for her 24th career score, and more importantly, cutting the deficit in half at 2-1. Just 134 seconds later, Mangione produced the game-tying score as she deflected a shot from Cooke past the goalkeeper.

Now tied at two, Loyola remained on the offensive and just five minutes and 38 seconds after scoring its first goal, the `Hounds scored their third goal for the game-winner as McClenahan headed a service from Meehan for the game-winner.

The local product, "Gigi" Mangione, was named the MAAC Championships Most Valuable Player as she recorded two goals, was successful on her penalty kick attempt and was involved in the game-winner in the championship game. Joining her on the All-Tournament Team was Ferraina, Cooke and Ippolito, who stopped 11 shots in the Tournament.

Would The Third Time Be The Charm In Lucky Number Seven?
After going unbeaten in a program-record 14 games at 12-0-2, Loyola found out that West Virginia would be its opponent in the first round of the NCAA College Cup on November 9 at the selection show viewing at S'ghetti Eddie's. It would be the third time the two teams would face off, with both matchups appearing in the NCAA College Cup and the Mountaineers coming away victorious in both meetings.

The site of the first round was familiar for the Greyhounds as it was in Winston-Salem, N.C., at Spry Stadium, the home of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, who Loyola played tough, but lost 2-1 earlier in the season.

West Virginia took the lead just over a minute in and scored another in the 36th minute of the first round. Loyola came out strong in the second half and even matched the Mountaineers with three corners n the second half, but could not find a way to score as the historic season came to an end. (See NCAA College Cup photos here).

Staropoli was named First-Team All-MAAC and is among the Loyola career leaders in assists

One For The Record Books
The 2009 edition of the Loyola women's soccer team was definitely one for the record books as several Greyhounds jumped among the programs top ten lists, and to the top in some.

Among the individual records are:
•While starting in the NCAA College Cup, Theresa Ferraina appeared in her 83rd career game at Loyola, which is a new all-time record.
•Playing in their 23rd games of the season, Theresa Ferraina, Nichole Schiro, Kelly Thomas, Christina Gomez, Kelly Farrell, Heather Cooke and Lauren Norcia set a single-season record.
•With seven goals, three assists and 17 points this season, Theresa Ferraina scored 25 goals in her four-year career, which is fourth all-time at Loyola. Her 15 career assists is tied for sixth all-time and her 65 points is the third-most in Loyola history. Ferraina is one of two players in Loyola history (Carolyn Kennington '06) to record at least 25 goals and 15 assists.
Christina Gomez wrapped up her career with 24 goals, which is tied for fifth all-time at Loyola. Her 60 career points are fifth in Loyola annals.
•With eight assists this season, Kelly Thomas tied several players, including Lina Staropoli and Theresa Ferraina for the Loyola single-season record. Thomas has 13 career assists, which is tied for 12th all-time at Loyola.
•With two assists this season, Lina Staropoli has 15 career assists, which is tied for sixth all-time at Loyola.
•With nine goals and 24 points, Nichole Schiro recorded the sixth-most points in a season for a Greyhounds women's soccer player. Her goal total is tied for the sixth-most in a season.

Among the team records are:
•The 14-game unbeaten streak (12-0-2) from September 18 to November 1 is the longest in program-history.
•The 15 wins in 2009 tied for the second-most in team history.
•The nine-game win streak from September 25 to October 25 was the fourth-most in team history.
•Loyola will enter the 2010 season with a 28-game (22-0-6) unbeaten streak in MAAC regular season play dating back to October 29, 2006. The streak is the second longest in team history (45 games from 10/21/01 to 10/27/06).