Buffalo, NY – The D'Youville women's soccer team punched their ticket to the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference semi-finals on Saturday afternoon, defeating the fifth seeded La Roche Redhawks by the final score of 2-1.
D'Youville began their first-round playoff game by applying some early pressure to the La Roche defense. Kiernan Johnson (Cherry Valley, IL/Keith School) had the first shot of the game for the Spartans just over a minute in. Right before the 10-minute mark, Magan Magee (Ellenburg Center, NY/Northern Adirondack) had a threatening corner followed by another dangerous corner just a few seconds later that would give the Spartans a quick lead.
Magee's curved corner landed inside the box and found its way into the La Roche goal off a Redhawk defender, giving D'Youville the 1-0 lead in the 12th minute off an own goal. Just under five minutes later Magee would again have a better scoring opportunity, scoring it herself this time.
Using her athleticism, Magee climbed the ladder inside the La Roche box to meet a ball from the foot of Kaylee Heschke (Newfane, NY/Newfane) with her head, putting on past the Redhawk's keeper and making it a two-goal game in the 16th minute. Despite a number of scoring chances from both teams, neither defense would concede a goal for the remainder of the half as the Spartans carried their 2-0 lead into halftime,
The Spartans were again on the attack to open the second half of play. Jenna Tomizzi (Buffalo, NY/Sacred Heart Academy) nearly connected on yet another header goal from Heschke to make it 3-0, but the La Roche keeper made the save. The Redhawks would begin to pressure the Spartan defense in the 57th minute and eventually broke through in the 62nd minute on a shot outside the box to make the score 2-1.
Over the next 20 minutes, La Roche would record every shot in the game. With five shots and one corner, the Redhawk offense was in control of the game, but the D'Youville defense continued their recent string of dominate performances and kept La Roche out of their net. The Spartans held onto their goal advantage to the final whistle, defeating La Roche 2-1 and advancing the team to the AMCC semi-finals.
"Any time you win a home playoff game and home against a quality opponent, you have to be happy," said head coach Jim Hesch. "Our girls have really come together the last month and the deserved the win. I am happy for them!"
As they have been for the last several games, the defense of the Spartans was outstanding. Goalkeeper Megan Dulniak (Cheektowaga, NY/Cheektowaga) mad six saves on seven shots as the Redhawks had 13 shots total. Center backs Tomizzi, Dominique Riforgiato (Fredonia, NY/Fredonia), and Magee were excellent as they have been for several games. On the outside, Cassandra Brooks (Grand Island, NY/Grand Island) and Johnson were threatening on counter attacks but also strong in their defensive play.
Offensively, six different players recorded shots for the Spartans. Magee, Tomizzi, and Brittany Cristofanelli (Niagara Falls, NY/Niagara-Wheatfield) each had shots on goal. Magee's game-winner was her fourth of the year while Heschke picked up her first assist of the season.
The women advance to play the top overall seed, the Penn State-Behrend Lions, on Wednesday, November 1 at 4:30pm for the AMCC semi-finals.