Women's soccer headed to ECAC finals after defeating MCLA, 3-1, on PKs

WALTHAM, Mass. - In a downpour on Gordon Field today, the top-seeded Brandeis University women's soccer team rallied from a two-goal deficit to force overtime against No. 4 seed Mass. College of Liberal Arts. After two scoreless extra periods and the scored tied, 3-3, the Judges prevailed on penalty kicks, 3-1. They will advance to their third-straight ECAC Tournament championship tomorrow, when they will host second-seeded Keene State College at noon.

      Brandeis (10-6-4) opened the scoring early in the 6th minute in the wet weather. Senior forward Melissa Gorenkoff (Woodbury, N.Y./Syosset) rifled a shot through the box. Junior midfielder Sofia Vallone (Westport, Conn./Staples) was able to get a leg on it, deflecting the ball past sophomore goalkeeper Jen Wehner (Cooperstown, N.Y.). The goal was Vallone's third of the season.

      After the opening salvo, Wehner was fantastic for the Trailblazers, stopping seven more Brandeis shots in the first half, while two of her defenders helped clear balls off the line. The Judges owned just a 1-0 lead at halftime, keeping MCLA's leading scorer, junior Jess Tietgens (Stamford, Vt.) under wraps, allowing her just three shots before the break.

      Tietgens would not be denied the second half, scoring on her first two shots. She tallied her 29th goal of the season in the 50th minute, when she sent a slow roller past Brandeis senior netminder Hillary Rosenzweig (Boca Raton, Fla./Spanish River)on a feed from junior forward Danielle Parenteau (Southampton, Mass.). Tiegens gave the Trailblazers their first lead of the game less than two minutes later, when she dribbled through the defense and sent a high shot on net. It deflected down off the cross bar and in to put MCLA ahead, 2-1.

      The Trailblazers (15-5-1) kept up their pressure and expanded the lead in the 68th minute. Parenteau sent a hard cross in front of the net, and junior forward Harmony McGorman (Orleans, Mass.) got a head on it. She flicked it on to the foot of rookie midfielder Brianna Bressett (Adams, Mass.), who poked it home for her first of the season.

      Brandeis wasted no time in starting their comeback, however, cutting into the lead just 52 seconds later. Vallone found midfielder Mimi Theodore (Walpole, Mass.) at the top of the box. The sophomore dribbled in, beat one defender and slid the ball to the lower left of the net for her 10th of the season.

      After some back-and-forth play over the next 12 minutes, Gorenkoff, the MVP of last year's ECAC tournament, scored the equalizer. After receiving a pass from sophomore forward Kelly Doolittle (Bristol, Conn./Bristol Eastern) on the right sideline, Gorenkoff bent a long shot over Wehner's head and into the left netting, evening the game at 3-3 in the 85th minute. In the overtime periods, both teams had control at times, with shots favoring Brandeis, 5-4, but Rosenzweig had to make three saves to one by Wehner, forcing the shootout.

      In the shootout, Brandeis went first, and Wehner dove to her left to stop Brandeis junior back Taryn Martiniello (Wilmington, Mass./Wilmington), but Rosenzweig matched her with a save to her right on Bresett. Brandeis sophomore back Francesca Shin (Bayside, N.Y./Benjamin N. Cardozo) rallied from an injury earlier in the game to convert the Judges' second attempt, finding the upper right of the net, while Gorenkoff made another nice diving save in the second round to deny Tietgens. Brandeis junior Tiffany Pacheco (Rehoboth, Mass.) and Parenteau both scored upper right in the third round. Leading 2-1 in the fourth round, Brandeis sophomore back Jessica Schulman (Redwood City, Calif./Woodside) was the third straight Judge to find the upper-right corner, while MCLA midfielder Jade Prickett's (Westhampton, Mass.) shot went wide to the left, giving the Judges the 3-1 PK win.

      Despite allowing three goals each, both goalkeepers played well. Rosenzweig made 10 saves, a season-high, plus the two big stops in the penalty kicks. Wehner had 14 stops and denied several Brandeis crosses and corner kicks.

BOX SCORE