RINDGE, N.H. (November 11, 2018) – For the second straight year, it was the Pioneers of LIU Post who ended the season of the Franklin Pierce University women's soccer team in the NCAA Championship East Regional. A year ago, it was a 2-0 victory for the Pioneers in the first round. On Sunday afternoon, it was a 3-1 win on the road for No. 23 nationally ranked and fifth-seeded LIU Post over No. 7 and top seed Franklin Pierce at Sodexo Field. Junior forward Julia Duffy struck twice in the victory for LIU Post. Senior midfielder Nathalia Maria da Silva (Sao Paulo, Brazil) scored the lone goal for Franklin Pierce in what would be her collegiate finale.
With the loss, Franklin Pierce concludes its season at 16-2-2 after making its 21st all-time appearance in the NCAA Championship. With the win, LIU Post improves to 14-3-4 and will continue its 12th NCAA Championship appearance in the third round on Friday. The Pioneers will travel to the campus of Bloomsburg University to take on the East Region's second seed, Bridgeport, in the East Region title game, after Bridgeport posted a 3-0 win over Saint Rose in its own second round game on Sunday.
For Franklin Pierce, the loss snapped an impressive unbeaten streak on the team's home field. The Ravens had not lost on Sodexo Field since a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Southern New Hampshire on Sept. 19, 2017, nearly 14 months ago. Franklin Pierce had been 17-0-1 in its last 18 on home turf. Still, the Ravens finished 2018 with a mark of 11-1-1 in 13 home games and have posted a home record of 20-2-1 over the last two seasons.
LIU Post supplied suffocating defense throughout on Sunday afternoon. The Pioneers held Franklin Pierce to just eight shot attempts, which marked the only time all season the Ravens were held to single digits. Franklin Pierce put just two shots on goal in the contest. Impressively, LIU Post held the Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year, junior midfielder Veronica Marques (Sao Paulo, Brazil) without a shot attempt in the game; the Pioneers were the only opponent all season to do so. For its part, Franklin Pierce only surrendered seven shot attempts to the Pioneers.
Franklin Pierce had the first strong scoring chance of the afternoon, in the 11th minute. Senior forward Bruna Tavares (Belo Horizonte, Brazil) executed a nifty give-and-go with Marques on the right side of the penalty area. Tavares took the return pass as she closed in on the edge of the six-yard box on the right-wing side. She took a shot from there, as LIU Post senior goalkeeper Hillevi Eklow came off her line to challenge. Tavares' shot got by Eklow, but was wide of the target and into the outside netting of the goal.
LIU Post struck for the opener in the 17th minute. Freshman midfielder Terese Markelund picked off an attempted clearance attempt outside the top of the penalty area. She stepped into a shot from approximately 25 yards in front of the right post and buried it in the left side of the net for her fourth goal of the season.
The Pioneers would push the lead to 2-0 in the 34th minute. Sophomore forward Erin O'Connor did a lot of the heavy lifting on the play, as she took the ball and made her way into the right-wing side of the penalty area. From near the end line, she sent a low cross into the goalmouth. The ball slipped past a number of players and wound up at the feet of Duffy, who finished off her team-leading 13th goal of the season from the top of the six-yard box.
Franklin Pierce struck back almost immediately, just 58 seconds later, in the 35th minute. It was senior back Marta Turmo (Barcelona, Spain) who stepped up from the back line and played the ball ahead from the midfield. She sent her pass to da Silva, who had a shooting lane from about 25 yards in front of the left post. She went to the far side and tucked her shot inside the right post for her 15th goal of the campaign, to tie Marques for the team lead.
For da Silva, the goal served as a capper to her career, in which she has been a four-time All-NE10 selection, including First Team honors in both her junior and senior seasons. The 15 goals in 2018 marked a career high, and da Silva will wrap up her four years in crimson and grey with 36 career goals and 16 assists, for 88 points. She finishes tied for 12th in the program's deep history in career goals, as well as 15th in points.
LIU Post had the first scoring chance of the second half, in the 49th minute. Again, O'Connor served as the impetus on the right side. From along the end line, it was difficult to determine if the ball she played was intended as a shot or a cross, but it wound up on target anyway. Franklin Pierce freshman goalkeeper Casey Kane (Millis, Mass.) was able to leap, get her hand to the ball and tip it up against the crossbar. The ball stayed in play, and Kane was able to corral it as it fell back down.
The Pioneers would ultimately extend their lead in the 51st minute, on the counter-attack. Moving ahead with the ball in the middle of the field, sophomore forward Sydney Pasquarella played it off to Duffy in the left channel. Duffy loaded up her shot from the top of the penalty area and put it into the top-left corner to tally her second goal of the game.
Franklin Pierce nearly responded almost immediately again, in the 53rd minute. Tavares provided a cross from the left wing, which found the feat of da Silva just outside the top of the six-yard box. However, da Silva pumped her shot over the crossbar and LIU Post retained the 3-1 lead. The Pioneers would hold off the Franklin Pierce attack the rest of the way as well, and went on to the two-goal victory.
Kane (13-2-2) finished with four saves against seven shots on goal and suffered the loss in net for Franklin Pierce. Eklow (13-3-4), the East Coast Conference Goalkeeper of the Year, stopped one of the two shots on her goal to pick up the win for LIU Post.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (https://www.fpuravens.com). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce baseball apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (https://www.fpuravens.com/store).