Knights offense powers past Cal
The Gannon University women’s soccer team had won just one of its last four games, failing to score more than once in any of them. California University of Pennsylvania hadn’t lost in nearly a month or even allowed a goal for two weeks.
But when the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference-leading Vulcans came to play the fourth-place Knights for a critical game with conference playoff implications at Gannon University Field Tuesday, the Knights stepped up by blanking the Red Raiders 3-0.
“I think the girls wanted it,” coach Colin Petersen said. “Last year, they bullied us around pretty good so they wanted to prove themselves.”
Coming off a week-long hiatus, the rejuvenated Knights grabbed control of the game early. Outshooting Cal 7-1 at one point in the early going, Gannon snapped Cal’s scoreless streak 17 minutes into the game when sophomore Michelle Genetin got behind the Cal defense on a throw-in from freshman forward Mani Brueckner.
“We definitely need the energy,” Brueckner said. “We knew this was a game that we should win and we could win and needed to win.”
From there, the defense took over.
Gannon (10-3-1, 7-3-1 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) stoned a Cal offense that had outscored opponents 10-0 in their previous three games.
Fifth-year senior Maggie Brinkman made seven saves and the Knights’ defense stopped the Vulcans’ diverse offense when it had to.
The Knights received an insurance goal early in the second half when Brueckner slid a free kick past a wall of defenders for her team-leading ninth goal of the season. Freshman Sammy Valloud helped ice the game with another score with five minutes remaining
Cal’s (11-3-1, 8-2-1) offense threatened throughout the second half but narrowly missed on a number of occasions, including hitting the post on a corner kick.
In defeating 15th-ranked California, the No. 22 Knights tallied multiple goals for the first time since beating Millersville University 6-0 on Sept. 28. Cal is tied with West Chester and Kutztown universities with 25 points for the PSAC top spot.
With 22 points, Gannon kept pace with Slippery Rock University for fourth place—the fourth and final spot to host a quarterfinal conference playoff game.
“In order for us to make a deep playoff run, we want that first home game, so we know that we need to win out,” Brueckner said. “Right now we can’t look too far ahead because we need to make the playoffs first.”
The Knights will travel to Shippensburg University 1 p.m. Saturday. The Red Raiders maintain a 6-6-3 overall record and 4-6-2 mark in the PSAC.
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