Release courtesy of Penn State Berks
BALTIMORE, MD - The Penn State Berks women's soccer team gave everything they had against No. 12 ranked Johns Hopkins University, but the Nittany Lions came up short in a 2-0 setback in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday evening.
The Blue Jays (15-2-4) jumped out to a 1-0 lead at the 8:22 mark of the first half when Emily Maheras put a perfectly placed shot inside the far the right post. Moments later, Charlotte Pizzuto had a shot sail wide and Megan Jardine had a shot on target stopped by the keeper. JoJo Zolli, who was forced into emergency goalkeeper duty, made her first stop of the afternoon in the 23rd minute. Zolli made another stop in the 28th minute, followed by Emily Clapper putting a shot on target that was turned away in the 29th minute. Zolli made her final save of the half with a stop in the 38th minute to keep the score at 1-0 going into the break.
In the second half, the Nittany Lions upped their intensity in hopes of finding the equalizer. The team worked a corner kick and Karina Raykova had a shot deflected out of bounds to force another corner in the 53rd minute. Off the second corner, Lydia Cacciola had a shot go just over the crossbar. In the 57th minute, Raykova played a ball over the defense to set up Lauren Korpics with a scoring opportunity, but her shot was stopped by Caitlin Hendricks.
The best scoring chance of the game for Berks came in the 71st minute following a JHU foul. Jardine ripped a free kick that went over the keeper's outstretched arms, but slammed off the crossbar. The rebound found its way to Liz Eisele's feet, who had a shot sail high. The Blue Jays responded with a goal off of a corner kick by Natalie Farrell at 72:16. Berks continued to fight down the stretch and Pizzuto put another shot on target in the 88th minute, but it was again stopped by the JHU keeper.
Zolli turned in a heroic performance in goal for Berks with her first action in net of her collegiate career. The sophomore finished with five saves and made several interceptions on crosses throughout the contest. Zolli was the first to admit the stellar play out of the defensive unit of Raykova, Emily Stump, Cacciola, and Kristi Cox helped keep Berks in the game. As always, the midfield play of Jardine, Pizzuto, Clapper, Jeyda Duran, Korpics, and Eisele gave the Nittany Lions everything they could. Alexis Schoener and Sara Hathaway both played with high intensity up top for the Nittany Lions.
The Nittany Lions, who made its seventh straight NCAA Tournament appearance, made great strides from the start of the year until the end of the season. The team finished with an overall record of 15-7 and had an 11-0 mark in the conference. Berks will bid farewell to one of its top senior classes in Jardine, Pizzuto, Raykova, and Stump. With a strong group of returners and the recruits that head coach Adrian Munteanu will bring in, the Nittany Lions will look to compete against the top teams in the country