Cardinals drop tough 2-0 decision to Scranton in championship

SCRANTON, Pa. – CUA gave everything it had on Saturday, but in the end the Cardinals fell to Scranton 2-0 in the Landmark Conference championship.  The Royals received an early goal from Rebecca Hextall that turned out to be the game-winner, but the match was evenly played throughout.

CUA's Caitlin Brett took the first shot of the match 1:27 in, but it went wide.

Less than two minutes later, Hextall took a feed from Sydney Parker and scored to give the Royals a 1-0 lead.  "We made a mistake early and we paid for it," Cardinals head coach JP Sousa said afterwards.

"We never gave up though," Sousa said.  "The girls continued to battle and gave us everything they had out there.  Both teams were really going after each other."

A header by Scranton's Sydney Parker at the 33-minute mark went wide, and Noelle Arcomano's attempt at the 36:48 mark was wide for CUA.

As one might expect in a championship game, the level of intensity throughout this one was high and as a result neither team was able to muster much offensively.  The teams combined for only four first half shots.

Early in the second, CUA's Regina Zolbrod tried to get a shot off, but it was blocked.  Three minutes later, Scranton's Katie O'Hanlon got off a shot, but it was high.

CUA's next shot came at the 72:51 mark by Brett, but it was stopped by Scranton's Kelsy McAnelly.

With time winding down, Sousa and his staff knew they had to make a final push for a goal.  "We put everyone forward because we had to go for the tie," he said.  "Scranton was able to get a late goal, but it was not due to lack of effort on our part.  I'm really proud of our effort."

He continued, "Every single player who stepped on that field today gave everything they had.  You could tell our girls really wanted this one.  I'm really proud of our team."

CUA finished with five shots in the match, while Scranton was credited with nine.  The Royals held a 2-1 advantage in corner kicks, and in goal, CUA's Christina Cassidy stopped one shot, and McAnelly sent back two for the home team.

Sousa spoke of his senior class afterwards, which consists of Brett, Cassidy, Caroline Burke, Maggie McCarthy and Erin Saia.  "The seniors led the charge with this team.  After we dropped a tough 1-0 match to Scranton two weeks ago, those five ladies took the team on their shoulders and said we're getting to this (championship match) and they did that.  They're the reason we got this far."

After missing out on the conference tournament a season ago, CUA had a terrific bounce-back year in 2011, advancing to its third conference championship in the last four years. 

"Nobody thought we'd be in this game," Sousa said.  "Knowing the season that we had in 2010 and to bounce back and make it all the way back here is a great feeling.  Certainly right now we're upset that we lost today, but we'll look back and know we gave everything we had to make it back to this point."

CUA will now wait to see if it is selected for the NCAA or ECAC Tournaments.  The announcement will come on Monday. 

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