Golden Bears Knock Off Top-Seeded Gulls in PKs to Reach CCC Title Game

Photo by Rachael Margossian
Photo by Rachael Margossian

Western New England will face UNE in championship match on Saturday

BEVERLY, Mass. (October 31, 2018) – The fourth-seeded Western New England University women's soccer team advanced to the championship match of the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Tournament for the first time since 2009 with a 4-3 penalty kick shootout victory over top-seeded Endicott College in the semifinals on Wednesday night at Hempstead Stadium. The shootout came after the Golden Bears and Gulls played to a 0-0 draw through 90 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime. 

With the win, Western New England (8-7-5) moves on to face third-seeded University of New England on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Biddeford, Maine. The Golden Bears will be seeking their first CCC title and sixth conference championship overall. Endicott's season ends with a record of 9-4-5.

Top Performers
Junior goalkeeper Alex Lemekha (Stamford, Conn.) kept the Golden Bears in the contest with an eight-save shutout performance. Lemekha also made a pair of key saves in the penalty shootout to help set up the win.

Sophomores Bee Murphy (Monson, Mass.) and Danielle Skates (Berlin, Conn.) were responsible for Western New England's two best scoring chances in the second half. Skates had a header saved early in the period, and Murphy hit the post late in regulation. Murphy also led off for the Golden Bears in the penalty shootout and converted her attempt.

Sophomore Mariana Goncalves (Ludlow, Mass.) and freshmen Mackenzie Holy (West Haven, Conn.) and Vanessa Chiarella (Hampden, Mass.) also scored in the PK shootout.

Endicott junior Catherine Elkas (Holden, Mass.) accounted for half of the Gulls' eight shots on frame.

Game Review
Endicott applied offensive pressure throughout the first half, as the Gulls outshot the Golden Bears 19-0, including 6-0 in shots on goal. Lemekha and the Western New England defense held up, however, as the contest went into halftime tied 0-0.

The Golden Bears nearly broke the scoreless deadlock early in the second half on a corner kick. Freshman Allison Bruehwiler (Old Saybrook, Conn.) sent a ball into the box that Skates got her head on and directed towards the goal, but an Endicott defender was there to clear it off the end line.

In the 84th minute, Murphy again nearly put Western New England ahead, this time firing a shot off the post. Endicott had one late corner but was unable to get a shot on goal.

Lemekha made one save early in the first overtime period, but neither team threatened to score the rest of the way as the contest went to a penalty kick shootout.

Western New England, which trailed 3-2 after three full rounds, rallied late to pull off the win. Endicott sophomore Gabriella Prisco (West Haven, Conn.) hit the post on the Gulls' fourth shot, and Chiarella converted her attempt to tie the shootout 3-3. In the final round, Lemekha made a crucial stop before Goncalves found the back of the net to send the Golden Bears to the CCC title match.

• The Golden Bears were outshot 33-2, while Endicott held a 7-1 advantage in corner kicks.
• Lemekha's shutout is her second this season and tenth of her career.