Cardinals cruise past Susquehanna into championship game

SELINSGROVE, Pa. – CUA steamrolled its way into the Landmark Conference championship game with a 6-0 road win at second-seeded Susquehanna on Wednesday afternoon.  Tracey Scanlon scored twice for CUA, while Meredith Chandler handed out two assists in the Cardinals' 14th win of the season.

After falling to Susquehanna during the regular season CUA completely dominated the Crusaders on Wednesday, outshooting their opponent 24-3, including 13-1 in the final 35 minutes.  CUA was awarded 13 penalty corners and scored off two of them.

In goal for the Cardinals Krystyanna Ramsdell stopped one shot, while Susquehanna started Margaret Ruth in the cage before letting Erin Ferguson play the final 28 minutes.

"We came out strong and really played well," explained CUA head coach Gia Cillizza who earned the 100th win of her career with the victory.  "We executed on corners, which is something we're getting better and better at, and I thought we were in top form.  We were very composed but we played hard.  It was a great effort."

CUA wasted very little time in getting on the board as Scanlon scored off an assist from Chandler just 2:43 into the contest.  That goal came off a penalty corner and gave the Cardinals a 1-0 advantage.

CUA's next shot came at the 13:53 mark by Chandler, but Ruth stopped the attempt. A little more than three minutes later Mary Swarthout gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead with her score at the 17:35 mark.  Scanlon assisted on the goal for CUA.

With less than six minutes to play before halftime senior Liz Grumbein got into the act for CUA with her first goal of the season to make it a 3-0 game.  Grumbein's score came off a penalty corner and was assisted by Tory Gagliardi.  "That goal really gave us a huge boost," Cillizza explained.  "Everyone was pumped after Liz scored."

CUA had one final chance to add to its lead as time was winding down in the half, but Chandler's shot hit the post, sending the Cardinals into halftime with a 3-0 advantage.

The Cardinals picked right up in the second half where they left off in the first as Scanlon scored just five minutes in.  Chandler assisted on the goal as CUA began to pull away.

The lead swelled to five at the 49:33 mark on Gagliardi's goal, which was assisted by Swarthout, and Mary Beth Leo provided the final tally for CUA with her score at the 55:38 mark.  Isabella DeLiso found Leo for the goal to lift the Cardinals to their first appearance in the conference championship game since 2008.

"Our defense was very tough," Cillizza said.  "We knew coming in that we had to be focused on our individual defense because they have some talented scorers, and we were able to do that."

She continued, "I thought Tracey (Scanlon) was outstanding; she really controlled the midfield.  All of the girls who play in the middle had great games for us: Tracey, Meredith (Chandler) and Liz (Grumbein) were just dominant.  Mary (Swathout) created a lot of opportunities; it was a total team effort, everyone played terrific."

CUA will now look for its first-ever Landmark Conference championship when the Cardinals head back to Pennsylvania on Saturday to take on the top-seeded Juniata Eagles.  Juniata defeated the Cardinals 4-2 in early October and CUA will look to exact revenge on its second straight opponent.

"We're excited to play Juniata," Cillizza said.  "We didn't have our best game the last time we played them so we're excited to have another shot."

She added, "We need to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses and come out with a much better start (after falling behind 3-0 last time)."

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