It took all of regulation time, two overtimes and a penalty kick session to finally end the inspiring season of the Geneseo women's soccer team last Saturday night, as they fell to Endicott College in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament.
The SUNYAC champions played an impressive game, holding a 1-1 tie into and beyond two overtime periods before they eventually lost, 6-5, in penalty kicks.
The Knights dominated Endicott for the majority of the game, with 12 shots on goal compared to five from the Gulls, but failed to catch a break against a tremendous effort by opposing goalie Amy Meuse.
"It was as good of a game as we've played all year," said head coach Nate Wiley. After a scoreless first half, the Knights struck first when senior Eileen Coyle scored her 13th goal of the season on an assist from senior Stephanie Bergin in the 80th minute of play. Endicott quickly responded with a goal only 58 seconds later, forcing the game into overtime.
The Knights showed amazing resilience, staying strong throughout both overtime periods and forcing the game to eventually be decided via penalty kicks. Wiley said he was proud of his team and their ability to play at such a high level for 110 minutes of extremely competitive soccer. "It is a testament not only to our fitness, but to our character and our heart," he said.
The shootout went eight players deep but Endicott, who is no stranger to penalty kick scenarios after falling to penalty kicks in the 2008 NCAA tournament, responded in the clutch, notching the victory on freshman Caitlin Peters' shot.
"They ended up catching the lucky break we were looking for," Wiley said. "We know that the better team didn't win that game."
Although the loss is disappointing, the season could have ended much worse had the team not rebounded from a rough patch. At one point the Knights were 5-4-1 overall and 1-3-1 in conference play. The team, however, caught on fire and didn't lose another game, finishing with a 14-4-3 record and capturing their first conference championship in 15 years. "We had a great season," Coyle said. "To turn it around the way we did truly shows what kind of team we are. We had a great run, it's just sad it see it end."
The Knights stand to lose five seniors next year including their top two scoring threats in Coyle and Melissa Beale, as well as Bergin, Katie Price and defender Lindsey Feuz. "I'm happy especially for this group of seniors," Wiley said. "Winning a conference championship is kind of finishing that they started three years ago." Geneseo will look to repeat as SUNYAC champions next year, building on an impressive and thrilling 2009 season. "We've raised the bar," Wiley said.