PHILADELPHIA, PA. 10/22/2017 – The La Salle Explorers women’s soccer team had one more thing to accomplish this season. After a tie at George Mason on Friday, the Explorers needed a win over the VCU Rams to win the regular season title and clinch the number one seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. La Salle overcame fatigue and a scrappy VCU team to get a 1 – 0 victory at McCarthy Stadium to win the crown.
“We were tired, but it showed the girls grit,” said La Salle Coach Paul Royal. “VCU was a better squad today, but that is a testament to a championship team. You can show up, and not have your legs, but still get the job done. I’m proud of this group.”
The game winning goal came in the 54th minute when Danielle Marx flicked the ball past Rams goal keeper Audrey Anderson and into the left corner. The play started with a throw in by Amirah Louketis to Kristin Haugstad who passed the ball to Marx.
La Salle will go into the Atlantic 10 derby at home facing the 8th seeded Dayton Flyers. Royal will remind the team who will need to recognize that this is a new season.
“Definitely,” Royal said about the team understanding the upcoming tasks. “We talked about that after the George Mason tie, making sure we keep our focus. We have to stay sharp and play the top-level game we are capable of. This group has great senior leadership that will keep us together.”
The Explorers have four players who have scored 7 or more goals this season. Madison Bower leads the team with 9 goals and 25 points. Haugstad posted 8 goals and assists this season. Maci Bower has 8 goals and Marx notched 7 scores. The offense will present problems to the opposition. The team gives up an average of .63 goals per game. Goal Keeper Larisa Zambelli has given up 11 goals. She has 72 saves and a .867 save percentage.
“Our pace and pressure on the offensive side, and our pace up front,” Royal said about the problems his team will present to the opposition. “We are one of the best transition teams in the country.”
Last season La Salle did not make the tournament. Their 14 – 3 – 2 record, 9 – 0 – 1 on conference represents a major turn around, and an accomplishment to get the top seed.
“It’s a testament to these girls knowing they wanted a change, wanted to think differently, wanted to work harder, put the work in that will make them better,” Royal said. “It is special. Our whole attitude as a team changed and we are reaping the rewards now.”
The Explorers and Flyers met in Philadelphia on September 28. La Salle won the game by a 4 – 0 score. The rematch is on Saturday, October 28 at McCarthy Stadium. The Atlantic 10 Conference semifinals and final will be on November 2nd and 4th in Richmond.
Written By: Glenn Papazian