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Muhlenberg College

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

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Field hockey, men’s soccer

Women’s soccer in second place
after beating No. 16 swarthmore

Note to the Centennial Conference: When talking about the top women’s soccer teams in the league, Muhlenberg belongs right there.

The Mules sneaked into sole possession of second place in the CC with a 2-1 home win against Swarthmore, which came into the game ranked 16th in Division III by the National Soccer Coaches
Kasey Hacker
Hacker’s game-winning goal was the 19th of her career, the most of any active Muhlenberg player. See video of the goal at right.
Association of America and 19th by It was Muhlenberg’s first win against a nationally ranked team since a 1-0 defeat of No. 9 Messiah in 2000.

All the scoring came in the first 6:10, with senior Kasey Hacker netting the game winner. Hacker was one of the 10 Muhlenberg seniors who had never defeated the Garnet before, going 0-2-1 in a trio of overtime games the last three years.

“We’re very excited,” said senior Ashley O’Grady, who was involved in the first goal. “It feels good to beat them as seniors and go out with a win.”

While Swarthmore, first-place Johns Hopkins and Dickinson have garnered attention and national rankings this season, the Mules have been up and down of late, splitting their last eight matches. The games have come against tough competition, however, including No. 1 Messiah and regionally ranked Scranton outside of the CC.

In league, Muhlenberg (7-5, 4-1) is close to ending a stretch in which it will have played five straight CC games against the other four 2008 playoff teams (Haverford, Dickinson, Swarthmore and Johns Hopkins) and an improved Washington squad. Those five came into the day with a combined record of 41-13-3.

The Mules, who travel to Hopkins on Saturday, can do no worse than
3-2 against that group after handing Haverford its first loss of the season and beating Washington and Swarthmore.

Muhlenberg got a little help early on against the Garnet (10-3, 4-2). After a cross from the right wing was cleared out of the box by Swarthmore, the ball bounced out to O’Grady, the left back. She sent the ball diagonally into the box, where her sister Meghan O’Grady and a Swarthmore back went up to head it. The goalie came out to play O’Grady’s header, but the ball also went off the head of the Garnet back and trickled into the open net for an own goal.

“I was just trying to aim for the back stick, and I got lucky,” said Ashley O’Grady.

Swarthmore came back to tie the score just 2:23 later, but Muhlenberg was even quicker to respond. A mere 2:04 after the tying goal, Hacker won a loose ball in the middle of the field, took a touch to her right and cracked a shot from 25 yards out that bounced off the crossbar and in.

The Garnet entered the week 35th in Division III in goals-against average and had not conceded more than one goal in a CC regular-season game since 2006.

After the frantic start, the teams settled down. “We just wanted to keep playing the way we were,” said Ashley O’Grady. “Don’t panic, stay organized in the back.”

The Mules did a good job of that, not allowing another shot on goal until a long-range strike late in the game, when the Garnet was in desperation mode. Muhlenberg had several more good scoring opportunities and owned an 11-6 shot advantage for the game.
Click here for box score.

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