Joey Molacek Earns MVP Honors
HAMILTON, N.Y. - Ruthie Rosenberger scored a goal in the first half, Kim An added an insurance tally in the second half, and Monica Lee made seven saves in leading fourth-seeded Army to a 2-0 blanking of No. 3 Navy for the Patriot League Women's Soccer Tournament title and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
It is Army's second league title in four years and third overall. It is the second time that the Black Knights defeated the Midshipmen in the title game, having won 1-0 in overtime in 2008 for their first NCAA bid in school history.
Army (12-3-5) is just the second No. 4 seed to capture the title over the league's 21-year history. Bucknell was the first fourth-seeded team to win the title in 2005.
Molacek was named the MVP of the tournament, having had a hand in three of Army's four goals over the weekend. She was joined on the all-tournament team by Lee, along with defenders Madison Oliver and Molly McGuigan.
“It means a lot to me to receive MVP” said Molacek, “but I couldn't do anything without the rest of the girls on this team. Everybody has made an impact on this team, and that is the reason we are going to the NCAA tournament.
“It's an awesome opportunity to go the tournament, and I'm really excited about the potential this team has and what we can show to everybody next weekend.”
Molacek tallied early and late in sparking the Black Knights' 2-0 upset win over top seed and host Colgate Friday evening. The second team all-league midfielder assisted on Rosenberger's game winner in the Navy decision as Army avenged a 3-2 regular-season loss to the Midshipmen. Rosenberger scored at the 26:36 mark in the first half when her shot from the left side deflected off a Navy defender and landed in the back of the net for her fourth goal and game winner of the season.
“I was aiming for the far side of the goal when I took the shot,” said Rosenberger, and I was actually surprised when I hit it off of the NAVY player.”
An, the league's leader in goals, tallied the insurance marker in the 59th minute when she beat keeper Alexes Lopez-Shaw to a loose ball following her save on Errin Helbling's shot from the right side. The goal is An's 10th of the season and career 19th to move into a tie for 10th place on Army's career chart.
Lee was strong in goal throughout the weekend, pulling up with 14 saves with seven each in both wins en route to stretching her shutouts to 15 this season and 22 for her career. The second-team all-league pick made four saves (two early and two late) in the first half, and her three saves in the second half came late.
Navy, outshooting Army 15-7 overall, had a 9-4 margin in the second half, taking five shots over the final 17 minutes along with three corner kicks. In the 76th minute, Navy’s Brittany Fruin’s shot was wide and less than two minutes later Morgan Dankanich’s header off Fruin’s corner kick hit the crossbar. Kate Herren’s free kick in the 80th minute was heading into the top right corner but a diving Lee punched it out of play followed by her final save just 37 seconds later on an attempt by Morgan Dankanich for the Midshipmen’s final attempt to crease Army’s net.
“It felt great to come back and shut Navy out after our heartbreaking loss to them earlier in the season,” stated Lee. “We came back with a vengeance and had the will to win, and we made it happen; it was an excellent team effort.
“Coming in freshman year with a Patriot League Championship was an incredible experience, and I can't even describe how incredible it feels to experience it for the second time on my way out as a senior. We have truly made this a special season.”
Army’s five seniors – Lee, Dee Clegg, Lindsay Gordon, Helbling and Julia Stallard –go out as seniors the same way they came in as freshman in 2008 with a Patriot League title. That group helped write women’s soccer history by being on Army’s first team to participate in the NCAA Tournament.
Navy held a 15-7 lead in shots and a 7-4 advantage in shots on goal, and also had a 6-5 edge in corner kicks.
Head coach Stefanie Golan was the associate head coach in 2008 when the Black Knights won the league title and faced heavily favored and host Virginia, bowing 2-0 to the Cavaliers after holding them to just one goal in each half.
“This weekend it was all about winning the championship and getting to the NCAA Tournament,” said Golan. “That was our ultimate goal that we had set at the beginning of the year, and everything up to this point was taking steps to be able to do that. Coming into today’s game, we had to focus on what we needed to do.
“Big time players step up in big time moments and Joey (Molacek) did that the whole weekend.
We had another big time performance from Monica (Lee). She comes through when we need her to.
“This senior class has a lot to look back on and be proud of. For the younger players on the team, this is a great feeling for them to get early in their careers, and one for them to want to repeat.”
Army will find out its NCAA Tournament destination Monday during that selection show that is streamed on NCAA.com starting at 4:30 p.m.
ON THE PITCH: The Commandant of Cadets – Brigadier General Theodore Martin, the Dean – Brig. General Timothy Trainor , along the Army Athletic Director – Boo Corrigan, were among the Army fans at Sunday’s game with both Generals participating in the awards ceremony … they flew in by helicopter … at the Patriot League Tournament, Army has advanced to three of the last four league title matches with two titles … today’s match between Army and Navy in the tournament was the fifth with the Black Knights taking a 3-2 edge.