Women's Soccer Playoff Preview

Monday, November 4, 2013

As it did during the regular season, the Muhlenberg women’s soccer team hopes to get off to a fast start when it travels to McDaniel for a Centennial Conference playoff game tomorrow.

Or maybe not ...

Stephanie Tramutola
Senior Stephanie Tramutola assisted on the lone goal in the regular-season game against McDaniel.
The Mules (7-10-1, 5-5), the fifth seed in the CC playoffs, will begin the quest for their fourth championship with a rare Tuesday afternoon game against the fourth-seeded Green Terror (13-5, 6-4). The winner will advance to face top-seeded and nationally ranked Johns Hopkins (16-1-1, 9-0-1) in the first semifinal on Friday at 5:00. The second semi pits second-seeded defending champion Haverford (10-2-5, 7-0-3) against third-seeded Gettysburg (12-2-3, 7-2-1).

Johns Hopkins will host the semifinals and championship match, which is scheduled for Saturday at 5:30.

When Muhlenberg faced McDaniel in the CC opener for both teams back on September 14, freshman Abby Lazofsky scored off a corner kick in the 20th minute for what would prove to be the only goal of the game.

“We were really pumped up for the game,” recalled senior CJ Graetzer, who leads the Mules with six goals. “The only problem we had was that we went up early – which was awesome – and ended up playing defense for 70 minutes.”

That tactic may have worked in the McDaniel game but not so well of late. In the 12 games since, four times Muhlenberg went up 1-0 with a goal in the first 12 minutes, and all four games resulted in 2-1 losses.

Amanda Wong
Senior Amanda Wong, who did not play against McDaniel in the regular season, will face a Green Terror attack that ranks second in the CC with 45 goals scored. Muhlenberg was one of just three teams to shut out the Green Terror.
By contrast, in all of the Mules’ wins since McDaniel, they did not score until late in the first half or the second half.

“I’m hoping we’re out of that habit,” said Graetzer of letting early leads slip away. “If we do get up, we know we need to keep at it. It’s the playoffs, and anything can happen.”

Muhlenberg knows that from last year, when it lost a home playoff game to Swarthmore on a goal in the closing seconds of the first half. After two seasons of missing out on the playoffs, the Mules are in for the second straight year, and with nine playoff berths in the 13 years since the CC began its postseason tournament, they trail only Johns Hopkins (13) and Gettysburg (11).

McDaniel, on the other hand, is making its first CC playoff appearance. Until this year, the Green Terror had not finished with a winning CC record since 2002.

It’s been a streaky season for McDaniel, which won seven in a row after the Muhlenberg loss, then dropped three in a row and enters the playoffs with a three-game winning streak, including a 2-1 home win against Dickinson on Saturday in what amounted to a playoff game. The Mules’ season has had its ups and downs as well.

“In the middle of the season we were very discouraged,” admitted Graetzer. “We had to remember why we chose to play college soccer. We play for our friends and our teammates. We’re a family.

“We had a huge heart-to-heart pasta party last week, and we’re in a really good place. All of us are definitely ready. We’re pumped and very excited.”