Nov. 9, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
Fresh off of winning the Patriot League Tournament title and automatic NCAA bid last weekend, the Army women's soccer team heads to University Park, Pa., Friday to take on host and No. 11 Penn State in an NCAA Tournament first round game, 7 p.m., at Jeffrey Field.
The Black Knights (12-3-5) are in the midst of a four-game shutout streak, while the Nittany Lions saw their 14 match win streak snapped in a 2-1 loss to Illinois in the Big Ten championship game. Army is making its second NCAA appearance in four years, while the Nittany Lions (19-4-0) earned their 17th straight bid and host seed for the first time since 2009.
Army is coming off a pair of 2-0 shutout wins at the Patriot League Tournament over top-seeded Colgate in the semifinals and No. 3 Navy in the championship finals that earned the Black Knights their third conference title and second automatic bid to the tournament. Army is just the second No. 4 seed to capture the tournament title, and first since Bucknell set the record in 2005.
The Black Knights will be looking to register their first-ever NCAA win and second by a Patriot League school when they go up against a Penn State team that is 30-15-1 all-time at the NCAAs and showing a 24-6-0 tournament record at Jeffrey Field.
The last time PSU hosted a first-round match at its home field was in 2009 when it defeated Patriot League member Colgate, 5-0. The Raiders are the only league team to post a first round win when they blanked Arizona, 1-0, in 2004
Navy was the last Patriot League school to advance to the second round of the NCAAs when the Midshipmen moved forward in 2006 on penalty kicks (5-4) after playing William & Mary to a 0-0 draw.
Army's coaching staff and players began preparing for Friday's match since last fall after falling short of an NCAA bid following a 1-0 heartbreaker in the championship finals of the league tournament.
It will be the second time that Army's five seniors - Dee Clegg, Lindsay Gordon, Errin Helbling, Monica Lee and Julia Stallard - are heading to the NCAAs, having been part of the Black Knights' squad that earned its first NCAA bid when they were freshmen in 2008. Head coach Stefanie Golan was the associate head coach at the time, taking over the program at the conclusion of the season following the retirement of long-time mentor Gene Ventriglia.
It will be defense vs. offense when Army, one of the toughest teams in the nation to score upon, takes on a Penn State team ranked among the scoring leaders. The Black Knights list second in the nation in shutout percentage (0.75), third in save percentage (0.914) and eighth in goals-against average (0.426). Lee, the senior goalkeeper, is fourth in save percentage and ninth in GAA as the starter in all 20 matches en routing to posting a school and Patriot League single-season record 15 shutouts.
Penn State comes into the fray ranked fifth in scoring offense (2.74), and 14th in won-lost-tied percentage (.826), while defensively the Nittany Lions are 17th in shutout percentage (0.565) and 50th in GAA (0.82). Sophomore forward Maya Hayes is first nationally in goals (27) and points (62), second in game winners (nine) and ranked second in goals per game (1.174) and fourth in points per game (2.7). Taylor Schram is sixth in assists (12), Christine Naim is 11th (11) and Jess Rosenbluth is 20th (10) in helpers.
In addition to Lee, Army has one of the finest defensive players in the country in sophomore Molly McGuigan, a two-time Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year and two-time first-team all-star. She was also named to the preseason to the MAC Hermann Watch List. McGuigan has played a pivotal role in Army recording 31 shutouts in 41 games over the past two seasons, including a record-setting 16 last year and one shy of that mark this season.
Offensively, Army's 28 goals are its highest output since registering 35 in 2005. Two-time Patriot League first-team all-star Kim An leads Army and the conference in goals with 10, along with four game winners to tie with two others, including classmate Ruthie Rosenberger, for the lead in that department as well.
Sophomore Joey Molacek, the MVP of the Patriot League Tournament, ranks second on the team with five goals and two assists for 12 points, along with a pair of game winners. Rosenberger and Helbling are tied for third with nine points each, with Stallard, who was switched from defensive to midfield this year, leading the Black Knights with five assists.
Live audio of Friday evening's contest will be available on Army's official athletics web site (www.goARMYsports.com) via ITT Knight Vision, the Black Knights' subscription-based multimedia platform. Bob Geller will handle the play by play duties. Live stats for the match will also be available via GameTracker.
Tickets to the game will be sold at the Bryce Jordan Center Ticket Office (Tuesday-Friday, 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.). The ticket office is located off Curtin Road with free parking outside the doors.
General admission tickets will also be sold on site, beginning one hour prior to the match on Friday, for $8 apiece. Students and children will be admitted for $5, while a group rate for 15 or more fans will be $3 per person. Parking is free for all attendees. Fans are encouraged to park in the grass lots south of Jeffrey Field (weather permitting) or in the Beaver Stadium West Lot, accessed off Park Avenue.
Captured its second Patriot League title in four years and third overall
Has drawn No. 11 and host Penn State in the opening round of NCAA
Fifth postseason bid
NCAA Division I vs. No. 16 Virginia in 2008 - fell 2-0
Three ECAC - twice Division II, once Division I
Heads into the tournament 12-3-5
Played 12 of 21 games at home
Season-long seven game unbeaten string began with Appalachian State Aug. 21 and was ended by Stony Brook on Sept. 16.
15 shutouts are one shy of school-record 16 set last year
Black Knights have recorded 31 shutouts in 41 games the past two years
Captured back-to-back tournament berths - Black Knight Classic, Army Soccer Classic - during regular season.
Preseason favorite to win the Patriot League title
Soph Molly McGuigan preseason favorite for Defensive Player of the Year
Soph Kim An preseason favorite for Offensive Player of the Year
Molly McGuigan was one of 42 players named to the preseason Hermann TrophyWatch List
Captured pair of tournament titles in September
Defended title at the Black Knight Classic
Won the inaugural Army Soccer Classic
Army earned seven Patriot League weekly honors - three goalkeepers, one offense, two defense,one rookie
Six players earned Patriot League all-star honors - second highest in school history
Kim An and Molly McGuigan repeated as first-team selections
Julia Stallard (M), Errin Helbling (F), Joey Molacek (M) and Monica Lee (GK)
were second team picks ... second all-star citation for Stallard.
Joe Molacek was named MVP of the Patriot League Tournament
She was joined on the all-tournament team by Molly McGuigan, Madison Oliver
and Monica Lee
Julia Stallard and Molly McGuigan were named to the Patriot League All-Academic Team
Molly McGuigan was named to CoSIDA's Capital One Academic All-District 1 second team
Monica Lee was named to the CS360 Primetimes Weekly Honor Roll (Division I) (Nov. 6)
28 goals scored this season the most since tallying 35 in 2005
Nine goals allowed is tied for second fewest, equaling mark set in 2002, after yielding just six (school record) last year.
No. 8 in the Mid-Atlantic Region in latest NSCAA rankings
Sophomore class has scored 20 of Army's 28 goals