BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Moravian College is continuing its look back at its 2016-17 athletic campaign. The next event in the Top 10 Exciting Games from the past year is our No. 2 highlight – the women's soccer team rallying to defeat The Catholic University of America, 4-3 in double overtime, in the Landmark Conference Semifinals.
The Greyhounds, who are on the countdown for the second time after kicking off the list with the No. 10 highlight, earned a berth in the 2017 Landmark Conference Championship match with the victory and the squad was 10-7-1 overall and 5-2 in Landmark Conference action during the regular season.
On the evening of November 1, the Greyhounds were the second seed in the Landmark Conference Tournament and welcomed third seeded Catholic to John Makuvek Field for the semifinal contest. Prior to the win that night, Moravian's last home postseason win was in 2008 when the Hounds defeated Catholic, 1-0 in double overtime to clinch the program's only Landmark Conference title.
"It was one of those games that you will always remember," commented Head Coach Jeff Ykoruk. "Based on our game earlier in the season with Catholic we knew it had potential to be a high scoring game. The first half we had played a bit too defensive within our system. At half time we addressed the need to attack and open up play a bit more and it resulted in us scoring four goals between the second half and the two overtimes."
The Cardinals put the Greyhounds on their heals early in the match with the opening goal in the 12th minute. Catholic had a 9-3 advantage in shots in the opening 45 minutes of action but Moravian junior goalie Jessica Lawton had three saves to keep it as a one-goal match at halftime.
The Greyhounds would get onto the scoreboard in the 52nd minute when sophomore forward Gabby Stelzmiller scored on a break down the right side of the pitch set up by freshman midfielder Juliana Caranci. The Hounds needed just five minutes to take the lead as Stelzmiller netted her second goal of the evening with a break down the left side of the field and shot from just outside the six-yard box.
Catholic responded and tied the match in the 67th minute, and the Cardinals would move ahead, 3-2, with a goal off a corner kick in the 80th minute. Stelzmiller completed her second hat trick of the season with 3:02 left in regulation as she went in on another breakaway from the left side for the tying goal.
"Gabby was pretty much unstoppable," Ykoruk noted. "Her pace was a little too much for Catholic's back line to handle. Scoring a hat trick is a playoff game is very impressive and her early goal in the second half gave us a lot of confidence."
Lawton, who finished with eight saves, made a pair of stops during the first 10-minute overtime session as both sides had chances to end the contest but neither could score.
Just over three and a half minutes into the second overtime, Stelzmiller settled a ball in the defense end with a clearing pass to Caranci. Caranci took a touch and saw senior forward Valentina Margiottiello breaking down the field. From the defensive side of midfield, Caranci sent a long pass down the middle to get Margiottiello on the breakaway. Margiottiello caught up to the pass, took a short touch to get past the Catholic goalie, who had come out to defend the breakaway, and then Margiottiello deposited a shot inside the right post for the game winner.
"I was very happy to see Valentina end the game with her goal in the second overtime," Ykoruk stated. "She had worked so hard throughout the game to create opportunities and her goal was well deserved.
"Looking back on it you obviously remember the amazing support from the student body. The crowd grew as the game went along and the players fed off them. Our staff was excited for the players. To come from behind twice in a game and then end the game in overtime and watch the players celebrate was very rewarding," finished Ykoruk.
Read the original game story at http://moraviansports.com/sports/wsoc/2016-17/releases/20161101ywuybk with links to stats, photos and video of the game.
A list of the games that just missed the top ten list will be released on Friday, July 21 and the top highlight in the Top 10 Exciting Games of 2016-17 will be released on Monday, July 24.