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Stunning Comeback for Franklin Pierce

Smith, Demoner score in final 4 minutes to beat SCSU in NE-10 semifinal

Novemeber 7, 2008

The Franklin Pierce women‘s soccer team, the top seed in the Northeast-10 Conference tournament, scored twice in the final four minutes of regulation to stun upset-minded and fourth-seeded Southern Connecticut State University in conference tournament semifinal round action Thursday night.

Senior All-American Gabriela Demoner capped the Franklin Pierce comeback with a miraculous lobbed volley from the halfway line that crossed the goal line with just a second left in regulation.

With the final seconds ticking away, Demoner collected a loose ball at the center of the pitch, wheeled and lobbed a high arcing volley that caught Southern Connecticut State sophomore goalkeeper Katie DiDio (Vernon, Conn.) off her line, bouncing at the back of the net to send the Ravens through to the championship match for the eighth time since joining the NE-10 prior to the 2000 season. The goal was the 50th of Demoner’s three-year career at Franklin Pierce.

Franklin Pierce (15-3-1, 11-2-1 NE-10) will face second-seeded Saint Rose (16-3-1, 11-2-1 NE-10) for the NE-10 Championship Sunday at Sodexo Field at 1 p.m. The contest will be a matchup of the two teams that shared the NE-10 regular season championship. The Ravens earned the top seed as a result of their 1-0 regular season victory over the Golden Knights back on Sept. 17 in Albany, N.Y.

Saint Rose advanced to the final with a 2-0 victory over sixth-seeded UMass Lowell (8-5-5, 6-3-5 NE-10) in Thursday’s other semifinal in Albany. Southern Connecticut (12-5-2, 9-3-2 NE-10) must now await word of a possible NCAA Tournament bid on Monday.

Franklin Pierce also got a goal from junior All-American Rachel Smith (Chichester, N.H.), while senior Gina DellaRose (Prospect, Conn.) scored for Southern Connecticut.

Franklin Pierce senior goalkeeper Brittany Ester made three saves to give the Ravens a shot at the comeback. DiDio made eight stops for Southern, who were out-shot by the Ravens, 14-5, for the match.

Demoner’s miracle volley capped a nearly improbable comeback for Franklin Pierce as, Southern Connecticut appeared headed for its second NE-10 Championship match since joining the Conference in 2000. The Ravens pushed Smith, the NE-10 Defensive Player of the Year, to the front line in search of an equalizer and the move paid off as she took a touch pass from sophomore All-American Angelika Johansson, the NE-10 Player of the Year, and fired a low drive from the right channel past DiDio with 3:46 left in regulation.

Southern opened the scoring in the 20th minute as DellaRose took a square ball from the left side by junior Katrina Cook (Westtown, N.Y./Minisink Valley), went in one-on-one with Ester and fired a low shot from just inside the 18 past the charging keeper.

The goal snapped Franklin Pierce’s string of nine straight postseason shutouts (three in the NE-10 Tournament) and ended Ester’s postseason shutout streak at 861:19 (301:19 in the NE-10 Tournament).

Franklin Pierce nearly equalized just before halftime as freshman Amanda Panaro (Rockland, Mass./Rockland) fired a rocket from 24 yards out in the right channel that skimmed the top of the crossbar with 37 seconds left before the break.

Southern had an excellent bid to take a two-goal lead 7:44 into the second half when Franklin Pierce sophomore back Kelly Weygand (Bridgewater, Mass.) cleared a shot inside the six from Owls junior Danielle MacMurray (Griswold, Conn.) that was headed into an open net. Ester punched another MacMurray drive over the crossbar in the 64th minute.

Panaro (team-high five shots) nearly struck again in the 68th minute when her low-angle shot from the right side kicked off the left post. Two Ravens were in the neighborhood to knock the rebound into an open net, but could not come up with the ball.

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