Women’s soccer defeats Rowan University in first round of NCAA playoffs; falls to Messiah College in second round

Photo courtesy of Scranton Athletics.
SENIOR DEFENDER Katie Cullen looks to prevent a Messiah College forward from scoring. The Royals were defeated by Messiah 1-0 in the second round of NCAA playoffs.

JILL WALL
SPORTS EDITOR

The University’s women’s soccer team concluded an extremely successful season Sunday. Despite a 1-0 loss to Messiah College in the second round of NCAA playoffs, the Royals ended their season with a 15-4-2 record, which is their second consecutive 15-win season.

Following a Landmark Conference championship victory, the Royals were pitted against Rowan University in the first round of NCAA playoffs. In what appeared to be a very evenly matched game, the Royals emerged victorious, beating the Profs 2-0 with goals from junior midfielder Brittany Uricchio and senior forward Kelly Pompey.

Senior defender Katie Cullen noted that the Royals were confident heading into the first round of NCAA playoffs, and looked to use the momentum they had built up throughout conference playoffs.

“We went in confident thinking that we could win the game, and obviously the nerves always come, but we definitely thought it was a good matchup,” Cullen said. “We went in, we played Scranton soccer, we got the ball out wide, put it in the back of the net early and then defended our lives away. It worked out. Rowan was a good team so it was definitely good for us.”

The victory against Rowan University was the first NCAA win for the women’s soccer program in a decade. Despite losing in the second round to nationally-ranked Messiah College, the Royals were proud of what they were able to accomplish this season.

“This was the first time we’ve won an NCAA game in 10 years, so it was definitely a good thing just to say we won one game. That’s always an accomplishment, and last year we lost in the first round,” Cullen said. “But, definitely a bittersweet ending. A career-ending game is always going to be sad, but I think it was the best that could have happened as far as being a senior.”

Junior goalkeeper Colleen Berry also noted that although the season ended with the loss to Messiah College, the Royals year was defined by success, even after having to rebuild following the loss of several seniors to graduation last year.

“Coming into the season we definitely knew it was going to be different because we lost a lot of our starters from last year, so it was definitely going to be a new lineup,” Berry said. “It was my first time starting too, so it was hard to know what to expect.”

The Royals worked out all the kinks early in the season, however, and were able to go undefeated in conference play for the second year in a row. For the seniors on the team, the season was quite a way to end their career.

“Being a senior it was cool to say we won one [NCAA] game, we went back-to-back [winning Landmark Conference championship titles], [and] we were undefeated for the past two years in our conference. Honestly, it’s been unbelievable, I’ve loved every minute of it,” Cullen said. I was lucky enough to play in a lot of games and really have a good career, but the people I’ve met are people I’m going to be friends with forever, so that would definitely be the best part in all of the memories of playing Scranton soccer.”

As for the rest of the team moving forward, they hope to continue the success they have built up in recent years and this season in particular.

“I just hope that next season we can take the energy that we ended with this season and carry it on through the spring, and when the fall comes around we can maintain that high level of play,” Berry said. “I’m [confident] we can because we were successful this year.”

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