D'Youville women's soccer has a plan for how to win soccer matches. Opponents know what's coming, but there's a reason professional teams thrive using the same strategy.
Jim Hesch's Spartans are content to let foes keep possession for the majority of a match. They're built to absorb pressure and persuade opponents to involve more players into the attack, allowing D'Youville to strike off counter attacks or set pieces earned off odd-man rushes.
The approach worked wonders in the regular-season meeting between D'Youville and La Roche, and the Spartans followed suit Saturday in their 2-1 win at Dobson Field in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference quarterfinals.
D'Youville will travel to Penn State-Behrend to face the Lions, who've won the last six conference tournaments, at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 1.
*1-0, D'Youville, 12': Counter-attacking teams love to play with leads, and that's just what the Spartans earned inside the first 15 minutes. Left back Magan Magee stepped up to take a corner kick and lofted a cross into the heart of the six-yard box.
La Roche goalkeeper Isabelle Orange couldn't find it in the congestion, and the ball caromed off a mass of bodies and into the Redhawks' goal. Officially, the marker was credited as an own goal.
*2-0, D'Youville, 16': The Spartans' dream start continued, this time with a well-earned tally. Buffalo State transfer Kaylee Heschke served a cross from the left wing, and Magan Magee alertly flicked the ball, with power, directly backward and into the side-netting of La Roche's goal from eight yards away.
*2-1, D'Youville, 62': La Roche cut the lead in half on a wunder-strike from Marissa Johnson, who smashed a first-time shot with her left foot from 35 yards out - Spartans' keeper Megan Dulniak got a hand to it, but it still found the back of the net.
*STRONG TEAM DEFENSE: Just like the D'Youville men, the women defend competently in numbers; the individuals along the back line are rarely left on islands, as help defense lurks nearby should an attacker slip through the first line of defense.
So, while the back five of Kiernan Johnson, Dom Riforgiato, Jenna Tomizzi, Magan Magee and Cassandra Brooks deserves credit - especially for dealing with long balls into the box and silencing the Redhawks' leading scorer, Vanessa Ceravolo - it was a collective effort that kept La Roche from equalizing over the final half hour.
Goalkeeper Megan Dulniak turned in another strong performance, stopping six shots and limiting rebounds encouraged by the slippery conditions.
*BEHREND BARRIER: The road gets much tougher Wednesday, as powerhouse Behrend stomped the Spartans, 6-0, in their regular-season match. The last time D'Youville beat Behrend was coincidentally also the last time the Spartans scored against them, winning 2-1 in September 2012. In the six matches since that game, D'Youville has not come within three goals.