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Sunday, November 11, 2007

MU women's soccer - Hawks are`dancing

WEST LONG BRANCH - onmouth University sophomore Andrea Lopez chose to play for Krissy
Turner and the Hawks women's soccer team after her senior year at Ocean Township High School
because everything about the program made her happy.

In Sunday's Northeast Conference championship game against Sacred Heart, Lopez returned the

Lopez scored off a cross from Illiana Blackshear in the 15th minute, giving Monmouth a 1-0
victory and its first-ever automatic berth in the NCAA Women's College Cup with its first NEC
Tournament championship since 1996.[PARA]
""This is so exciting,'' said Lopez, who is from nearby Oakhurst. ""My family comes to
every game, and to win this game in front of them and to be representing the NEC in the NCAA
Tournament with this team is such an honor.''

Both teams felt each other out for the first eight minutes, until Monmouth (12-4-4) made
its push at the goal. The Hawks put up two shots between the eighth and 15th minutes, then got
the ball to Blackshear heading up the right side. Blackshear beat a defender and crossed the
ball past oncoming Pioneer goalie Meghan Reichelt to Lopez, who slid into the 6-yard box and
poked in her fifth goal of the season.

""Illiana and I have been practicing that play and we even worked on it some more before
the game,'' Lopez said. ""I saw her get the edge and I just started screaming for the ball and
she put it right there.''

Blackshear created another chance for Lopez near the midway point of the first half, when
the junior forward took a shot on goal that Reichelt saved. The rebound came to Lopez, who put
up a shot to the far side of the net, but the ball hit the post and bounced out.
From that point on, Monmouth controlled the ball with its midfield and backs, led by senior
midfielder and NEC Player of the Year Amy Hoyer, senior sweeper Brittani Heller, and freshman
goalie and tournament Most Valuable Player Lia Fierro. The freshman stopped two Sacred Heart
(5-12-4) shots and recorded two shutouts in the Hawks' two tournament games.

""It felt like forever,'' Fierro said of the last 75:55. ""The clock was moving like
molasses. I was trying to just keep my head in the game and stay ready, but you can't help but
look up and check the clock in a situation like that.''

Hoyer and and Heller are the two lone senior starters on Monmouth and felt the pressure of
the 11-year NEC Championship drought.[PARA]
""We were so close last year,'' Heller said. ""We felt slighted because we felt like we
were good enough to win. This year, we knew it was our year and we just had to play the way we
know how, get home-field advantage, and finish the job.''

Turner is in her 10th year as Monmouth head coach and has watched her team come within one
game of a Women's Cup berth three times, but fall short in all three. For the first time,
Turner's Hawks reached the finals after earning the home-field advantage by winning the NEC
regular season title.

""If you look at the record, it speaks for itself,'' Turner said of her team's 18-3-1 mark
in its last 21 games on The Great Lawn. ""We benefit a lot from the atmosphere and we knew if
we could play this tournament at home with this team, we'd be very tough to beat.''

Monmouth will find out its destination in the Women's Cup during Monday's selection show at
8 p.m. (ESPN NEWS).


Blogger Alvin said...

Congratulations to MU Lady Hawks!!!
Wel played game Good Luck in NCAA Play!!

1:12 PM, November 12, 2007  

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