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Women's Soccer Team Falls in Penalty Shootout

The Mighty Oaks women's soccer team fell to the Panthers of Albany College of Pharmacy for the second time this season, 7-5, in a penalty shootout in the HVIAC championship game Oct. 25.

The Panthers struck fast and first, nearly two minutes into the game. Another goal by Albany Pharmacy at the 14th minute put ESF into an early 2-0 hole. The Mighty Oaks held their composure and ran the game plan, controlling possession for most of the first half and finally converting a goal at the 29th minute when sophomore Natalee Wrege was the recipient of an excellent cross from senior Bryony Striffler. The Mighty Oaks continued their attack and tied up the game, 2-2, when sophomore Jessie Smith beat a Panthers defender and sent a shot into the upper corner past the goalie.

The second half was a battle of possessions. ESF controlled the ball most of the second half despite losing sophomore goal scorer Lauren Archer to an ankle sprain midway through the half. Both teams had no luck converting any goals as the match headed into overtime. The Mighty Oaks had numerous scoring opportunities, some of which fell just inches short of the net as the game went into double overtime and finally had to be settled in a penalty kick shootout. ESF converted all but one of its penalty kicks while Albany Pharmacy went 5-5 on its penalty kicks, winning the match 7-6 and taking home the 2015 HVIAC women's soccer title.

After the game, the HVIAC recognized the season's All-Conference Team and Player of the Year. Receiving all-conference team honors were Striffler, sophomore Megan Herbst and junior Heather Carl. Carl also was named the HVIAC Co-Player of the Year, an honor she shared with Albany Pharmacy freshman Katie Benson. ESF Head Coach Dan Ramin was named the HVIAC Women's Soccer Coach of the Year but he passed the honor to Panther Head Coach Christine Kanawada, whose team had defeated the Mighty Oaks twice this season.

The team finishes the regular season with a 10-2-1 overall record and a ranking in the top five nationally in the USCAA for the second year in a row. The squad will know its next opponent in the USCAA national soccer tournament after the tournament selection show Oct. 27. The tournament runs Nov. 4-7 in Asheville, North Carolina.