Women's soccer earns first PL season title
In the last regular season game for seniors on Reeves Field, midfielder Anabel Jimenez, defender Jillian Savani and 'keeper Lauren Wohl were honored for their contributions Sunday. But it was sophomore midfielder Simone Konig who led the Eagles to a 2-1 title-clinching win over Army. Konig, a German who, despite her 23 years, is only in her second year of stateside education, assisted AU's first goal before scoring a spectacular overtime winner. AU jumped to 9-7-1 overall with the win, but more importantly sealed their regular season PL title bid while moving up to a 6-1 conference record, tied with Navy. Because AU beat Navy 5-4 earlier in the year, they claimed the regular season title and will host the Patriot League Tournament next weekend. "I'm delighted for our team," said AU Head Coach Michael Brady. "We were a bit apprehensive and too concerned with what was riding on this match at times, but that said we displayed tremendous heart, discipline and character. The team deserves all the credit in the world." AU, regular season champions for the first time in its three-year PL history, will defend its 2002 conference tournament title against the same Army team, a match slated for Friday. The other semifinal will feature Navy against Colgate, the second and third-place teams respectively in the regular season. Despite the difficulty of beating a team twice in a row, Brady is optimistic about his team's chances. "It is an interesting scenario," Brady said. "But I don't feel Army knows us that well because we didn't play the type of soccer we're capable [of]. I think on Friday we'll be more aggressive and more assertive." If one player was assertive Sunday, it was Konig. In the 20th minute, Konig set up freshman midfielder Christina Gonzalez with a pinpoint cross from the left corner. Gonzalez, not known for her aerial power, headed a precise ball over Army 'keeper Rebecca Garcia. "Usually [Gonzalez] is not" a heading threat, Konig said. "She's small, like me, and it was somewhat surprising. But she scored a great goal." Konig continued to serve dangerous balls throughout the match from both the left and right flanks, at Gonzalez and Jimenez among others. But a bunkered Army defense hindered AU's finishing. With a breakaway goal from forward Jen Pascucci in the 33rd minute, Army sat back, absorbed pressure and tried to counter-attack. After 90 minutes, the score remained level at 1-1. In the fifth minute of overtime, freshman Jana Lee latched onto a long-ball and appeared to be in alone on goal when she was dispossessed for a corner-kick. Konig took the ensuing corner with the intention of finding a teammate in the box. Instead, she scored on a lofted, swinging strike from the left corner spot that sailed over Garcia and into the side netting. With that, AU was the conference champion. "I can't say it's what I was trying to do," Konig said of the kick. "I am always looking to try and see what is open, and I thought I would try to send the ball to the far post, but not to score directly." Brady could only sing praises of Konig afterward. "She's grown as a team player," he said. "And she has the composure to settle things down in situations like today, and to execute." The Eagles still have some work to do. Without a conference tournament victory, the Eagles most likely won't make the NCAA tournament. While playing host is nice, winning is paramount, and no team can be taken for granted. "I'm glad we won," Konig said. "But next week is what really counts. It's going to be tough." "We have to do everything necessary to win Friday," Brady said. "Sunday will be furthest from mind, and hopefully from everyone else's too. This league is way too tight to have grandiose visions." The Lady Eagles prepare this week before they host the PL Tournament Nov. 7 through 9.