Only nine days after Dowling College beat the Pioneers in the ECC Semifinals, Dowling finished the Pioneers season with a 2-0 win the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, November 11.
The Pioneers were considered underdogs in the National Championship this year as the team went into the tournament ranked number six by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
The Pioneers earned the number one spot in the East region and got a bye for the first round in the NCAA tournament. Dowling, on the other hand, beat Southern New Hampshire on penalties to claim the right to meet the Pioneers in the second round contest hosted by Southern New Hampshire University in Massachusetts.
Dowling began the game strongest as it took a couple of shots early on, but the team had to wait until the 23rd minute before it got on the board. A free kick was drifted towards the far post, and senior goalkeeper Nicole Fierro pulled out a good save to keep the ball out of the net, but Alexis Parrotta was there to put in the rebound to give Dowling the 1-0 lead going into halftime.
After the break, Dowling continued to play strong defense and deny the Pioneers any space to create chances. After 73 minutes, Dowling doubled its lead when Lindsey Thompson scored with less than 20 minutes left in regulation.
The Pioneers failed to find the equalizer and ended up losing to Dowling for the second time in nine days.
Sophmore midfielder Lina Harle was devastated after the loss as the season ended early. “It was a tough loss. We really hoped to keep playing for at least another week,” Harle said. She also pointed out the fact that Dowling ended both playoffs this season made it even worse. “Dowling is one of the school’s biggest rivals, so to see them ruin our dreams, twice, is hard to accept.”
The Pioneers were set up as the hosting institution after earning the number one seed in the region, but due to Hurricane Sandy this week’s games were moved out of the state because of lack of hotels and gas on Long Island. Harle does not use this as an excuse. “Of course we would like to play the game at home, but it was a natural disaster, so there is nothing we could have done about it. Dowling was in the same situation, so it did not play a direct role in the outcome of the game.”
The Pioneers had a good season overall as they finished with a 15-3-2 record.