ALBANY, N.Y. — The steam finally ran out on Sunday afternoon.
Coming off of back-to-back overtime contests in the second and third rounds of the NCAA Championship, the No. 14 nationally ranked and East Region champion Franklin Pierce University women’s soccer team could not get to the finish line against Atlantic Region champ and No. 2 West Chester in the national quarterfinal, in a 2-1 overtime loss, hosted by Saint Rose.
The Ravens struck first at Plumeri Sports Complex, with a 49th-minute tally from freshman Claudia Peirce, but appeared to show signs of fatigue down the stretch.
Sophomore Kaitlynn Haughey equalized in the 58th minute for West Chester to force Franklin Pierce to extra time yet again, where the Golden Rams found a winner from sophomore Alyson Cutter in the 95th minute, to squeak out the victory and advance to the national semifinal.
Franklin Pierce (16-4-3) captured its first East Region title in 15 years on Friday afternoon, but sees its 22nd all-time NCAA Championship appearance come to close just shy of returning to the College Cup. However, the Ravens, who had no senior appear in more than 12 games this fall, are well-poised to be a part of the national conversation heading into the 2023 campaign as well.
Meanwhile, West Chester (22-0-1) was forced to overtime for just the second time on the season and keeps its national title hopes alive by advancing to the national semifinal, where the Golden Rams will have a date with Midwest Region champion Ferris State.
After the first half went scoreless on Sunday, Franklin Pierce wasted little time in the second half, as the Ravens found the opener just 3:49 after the intermission. The play started with sophomore Brianna Trappett, who made her way from the left wing into the middle, outside the penalty area, where she laid the ball off to sophomore Salome Kerguillec. Kerguillec sent the ball off to the right for junior Hailey Goodman, who settled and then hit a cross towards the far post. Peirce got on the other end of it, took one touch to control and then knocked her first collegiate goal inside the left post.
From there though, West Chester upped the pressure, and the Golden Rams had the equalizer less than 10 minutes later, in the 58th minute. Franklin Pierce conceded a free kick front and center, after Kerguillec misjudged a challenge no more than a foot outside the top of the 18-yard box. Junior Kiley Kergides put the free kick on target, but sophomore goalkeeper Emilie Fox was equal to the initial shot and got her hands to it.
However, Haughey got to the rebound on the left side and finished off her eighth of the campaign.
The Golden Rams controlled stretches of overtime as well, and found the eventual winner in the fifth minute of the first extra session. Haughey started the play by chipping a ball which started freshman Faith Matter in behind the defense on the left side. Matter was tracked down from behind by the back line, but had space to pull back and hit a low pass to the right, across the penalty area. Cutter was waiting unmarked on the right side and salted away her seventh of the season.
Franklin Pierce had two strong chances to equalize later in extra time, but ultimately came up empty on both of them. The better of the two came in the 100th minute, when a mistimed challenge by freshman Jenna Fox saw the Ravens awarded a free kick from nearly the identical spot, albeit at the other end of the field, as West Chester had capitalized on back in the 58th.
Sophomore Jasmine Perez-Acosta took a shot, but could not put it on-frame, as she misfired just high of the upper-right corner.
The last gasp for the Ravens came in the 106th minute, on a low cross by Peirce from the left-wing corner. The ball popped off the defense and up in the air inside the six-yard box, and sophomore Makenzie Shean got her head to it. Shean caught the ball just a touch too solidly amid the goalmouth traffic though, as her attempt bounced off the top of the crossbar and carried on out of play. West Chester saw out the game from there, to punch its ticket through to the semifinal.
Sophomore goalie Emilee Fox (12-3-3) finished with a career-best 13 saves but was a hard-luck loser in the Franklin Pierce net.