Courtesy of Scranton Sports Information
ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. – Junior forward Michaela Arbus(Pequannock, N.J./DePaul Catholic) had not started a single game of her career when University of Scranton women's soccer coach Colleen Pivirotto circled her number on the lineup sheet for Wednesday night's Landmark Conference semifinal at Elizabethtown.
Arbus answered the call by setting up both Scranton goals as the third-seeded Royals surprised second-seeded Elizabethtown, 2-1, in overtime at Herr Field. Scranton advances to the Landmark Conference championship on Saturday against top-seeded Catholic at noon in Washington, D.C.
The Royals (10-7-2) won it just 1:27 into overtime when Arbus received a long pass down the right wing, beat a defender along the end line and dribbled toward the near post before feeding the ball across the front of the goal. An initial shot was saved, but Arbus collected the rebound and threaded a pass to sophomore forwardChristina Akalski (Long Beach, N.Y./Kellenberg Memorial), who deposited a shot into the left side of the goal to set off a celebration that sent the Royals' bench players streaming across the field to congratulate her.
The victory came just four days after Elizabethtown (13-4) had rallied from an early two-goal deficit to beat the Royals, 4-3, at Fitzpatrick Field. This time, Scranton's defense was up to the task, holding the Blue Jays to just one goal in the 20th minute. Elizabethtown held a decided 23-7 edge in shots, including 12-2 in the second half, but sophomore goalkeeper Krissy Welsh (Swarthmore, Pa./Strath Haven) made a career-high 10 saves, including seven in the second half.
While Welsh and the defense stood tall, it was Arbus who made the Royals' offense dangerous on a chilly night. In the 10th minute, she made a similar play to the game-winner when she received a pass in the right corner, deftly beat a defender one-on-one along the end line and sent a pass in front of the goal to fellow junior forward Gianna Vitolo (Denville, N.J./Morris Plains), who scored for a 1-0 Royals lead.
Scranton finished the night with just four shots on goal, and it was Arbus who created three of them, including both goals.
The two assists give Arbus four on the season and five for her career. Akalski now has five goals on the season and 12 for her career, while Vitolo scored her fifth of the season and 14th of her career.
The Royals will now play for the Landmark Conference championship for the sixth straight season and seventh time in the conference's eight-year existence. They have won the title four times previously – 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The winner of Saturday's championship will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Earlier this season, the Royals dropped a 2-1 decision in overtime to Catholic on Saturday, Oct. 18, in Washington, D.C.