FROSTBURG, Md. – The Franciscan women's soccer team closed out their season with a 3-1 loss to Grove City, Saturday morning, after earning a bid to the 2017 ECAC Women's Soccer tournament for the first time in program history.
Grove City (16-5) used a pair of goals in the second half to carry the Wolverines to victory while the Lady Barons (10-10) had one of the best scoring chances of the game in the beginning of the second. Junior keeper Sarah Luebking made a diving stop in the first 28 seconds of the second half that set up a corner kick for the Wolverines. The Lady Barons were able to clear the ball out and build through the midfield. Junior Eizabeth Dawyot got the ball in the center of the 18-yard box, about 11 yards out from net and her shot narrowly missed the inside of the post and ricocheted off across the backline.
The Wolverines were able to maintain possession on the other side of the field for much of the second half, and after two more stops by Luebking, Grove City was able to sneak a shot past Luebking to push its lead to 2-0 in the 54th minute. Grove City was able to keep steady pressure on the Lady Baron back line, but Luebking, seniors Sarah Schriner, Alice Flanagan, and freshman Marykate Bateman disrupted a lot Grove City's chances to extend its lead.
Grove City took a 3-0 lead with just under 10 to play as the Wolverines took advantage of a loose ball off a tough save for Luebking. A Grove City corner kick sent the ball into the box, and a Wolverine got a point-blank shot off that Luebking stopped with her hands as she protected the goal line but Lacy Harkrader was there to pick up the rebound and put it over Luebking's stretch for the 3-0 lead.
Franciscan broke up the shutout as senior Megan Luiso took a quick pass from junior Elizabeth Dawyot in stride to power it past the Wolverine goalie for her 12th goal of the year with 2:43 to play in regulation and the score held 3-1 at the final horn.
"For Megan to score, I couldn't be more pleased with that fact," commented head coach Clare McBane. "Her spot is going to be huge to fill next year. She has really grown over these last four years and she is going to be greatly missed. It was really exciting to see her to continue to see the fruits of her effort for the last four years. Even in the last two minutes of her last game."
Grove City out-shot the Lady Barons 28-4 while the Wolverines held a 7-0 advantage in corner kicks. Four different Lady Barons registered a shot while Luiso and senior Clare Kennedy each put their shot on net.
Luebking tallied a career-high 15 saves in the loss for the Lady Barons.
"Sarah is one of the most underrated players I have ever coach," remarked Coach McBane. "No one recognizes how talented she is, especially in our conference, and I am just blown away in games like this when the caliber of our opponent continues to improve, and therefore her skill level improves. She really is outstanding in that net. She is often underestimated by she is tiny but when you see hopping up and popping it out from the upper corners, not letting it in her net, and stopping those long balls, at the end of the day you can be nothing but proud of a keeper like that."
Franciscan wraps up its season with an overall record of 10-10 after advancing to the AMCC tournament championship game for the first-time in program history and the ECAC tournament for the first time.
"The biggest thing we are taking away from today's game is experience," commented Coach McBane. "Getting the experience to play in a postseason tournament and experience playing against a high-caliber team at the end of our season. We face a lot of high caliber teams at the beginning of our season, and this season especially where I felt like we were trying to get our legs under us at the start and to see us play against a team this good and compared how we look is encouraging for me. It really sets the younger girls up for success in the future."