Preview: #1 Marywood women’s soccer faces off against #3 Centenary for CSAC championship

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Preview: #1 Marywood women’s soccer faces off against #3 Centenary for CSAC championship

Women's soccer team celebrates goal in semifinal game. Photo courtesy of Marywood Athletics

Women's soccer team celebrates goal in semifinal game. Photo courtesy of Marywood Athletics

Women's soccer team celebrates goal in semifinal game. Photo courtesy of Marywood Athletics

Women's soccer team celebrates goal in semifinal game. Photo courtesy of Marywood Athletics

John Ferraro, Sports Editor

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THE JOURNEY

Marywood finished the season with a 9-1-1 record in the conference and clinched the #1 seed in the playoff with a 6-0 shutout victory over Neumann University on Thursday, Oct. 27.
In the semifinal game, senior midfielder Brianna Bruster lifted the Pacers to a 1-0 win against Gwynedd Mercy University to advance the team to the final.

Centenary finished the season with an 8-3 record in the CSAC and secured the #3 seed in the playoff with a 5-1 victory over Keystone College.

The Cyclones beat #6 seeded Neumann by scoring four second half goals in the first round of the playoffs before upsetting #2 Cabrini University 3-0 in the semifinal.

A LOOK BACK TO LOOK AHEAD

In the only regular season matchup between Marywood and Centenary, Pacers’ sophomore midfielder Julie Youngman scored in double overtime to clinch a 2-1 win.

Women’s soccer head coach and Assistant Director of Athletics and Recreation for Communications Andrew Smith reflected on that regular season battle with the Cyclones.

“Our midfield was outplayed, especially in the second half. We lost a lot of 50/50 balls and were slow to the ball defensively. Offensively they distributed fairly well to the forwards. The forwards need to finish; that’s their job,” said Smith.

Smith also highlighted a key strength of Centenary that could be problematic for the Pacers tomorrow afternoon. “They have a strong, physical midfield, and that concerns me, especially coming off our second half performance against Gwynedd,” Smith said.

Against Gwynedd Mercy, the Pacers totaled 25 shots and 13 on goal but scored only once. Smith commented that his team must do better than that in order to win.

“We need better play out of our midfield and better finishing from our forwards,” said Smith.

Fast forward to the CSAC final game and a lot more is at stake. Not only is the winning team crowned CSAC champion, but that team also claims an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.

According to marywoodpacers.com, it is the third championship match in program history and the first since 2009. The only CSAC title in program history came in 2008.

Smith, now in his 17th year as head coach, broke down the Cyclones pattern that his team must prepare for. “They look to get in behind defense with quick combination passes, sometimes long balls, then cross it in and finish. We just have to know they’re going to do that and be prepared.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Centenary is highlighted by junior Emily Pizzuto and sophomore Amanda Benoit. Pizzuto was named CSAC Player of the Year and made the All-CSAC First Team. Benoit lead the Cyclones in every major category this season including points, goals, and assists.

Marywood looks to lean on sophomore forward Megan Swiecicki and sophomore midfielder Julie Youngman.

Swiecicki scored 13 goals in 16 games while Youngman tallied seven goals and nine assists in 17 games. Sophomore goalkeeper Aly Moyer posted a 0.64 goals against average in conference play this season.

FINAL MESSAGE

With all preparation done and the table set for the title game, Smith has one final message to his team. “Do what we’ve been doing, don’t change anything. Take it one game at a time, including this one.”

Contact the writer: [email protected]
Twitter: @JohnFerraro21

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