Wong Saves the Day as Women's Soccer Wins Playoff Shootout

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Field hockey preview

What was Amanda Wong’s strategy for defending penalty kicks in the Muhlenberg women’s soccer team’s Centennial Conference playoff game at McDaniel, with the season and her career on the line?

“I pretty much sat on the sidelines and prayed,” said the senior goalie.

Her prayers, and those of the Mules, were answered. After tying a career high with 12 saves during the scoreless regulation and overtimes, Wong stopped the final penalty kick of the shootout to give Muhlenberg a 4-3 win.

Amanda Wong
Wong previously made 12 saves in another scoreless tie, against Lebanon Valley in her first start of the season.
The victory sends the Mules (7-10-2) to the CC semifinals, where they will face top-seeded and nationally ranked Johns Hopkins on Friday at 5:00.

“I mainly relied on my teammates to make sure they scored their penalty kicks,” said Wong, who played brilliantly the entire game. “Everyone knows that in PKs there’s no pressure on the goalies.”

Muhlenberg, playing in its first shootout since winning one against Johns Hopkins in the 1999 ECAC Championship game, got off to a good start when senior Susan Galgano converted her try. But the Mules’ next attempt was saved, and they trailed 2-1 after two rounds.

Junior Emily Bain, who played in only two games all season, calmly stepped up after being on the bench for more than two hours on a chilly day and buried her PK. Sophomore Nicole Karsch also converted, and when a Green Terror played dinged her shot off the right post, the shootout was tied at three heading into the final round.

Senior CJ Graetzer blasted in her PK under the crossbar to give the Mules a 4-3 lead. That meant the Green Terror needed a successful kick to keep the shootout going.

“I knew she was a righty by the way she was lining up,” said Wong. “I went with my gut and dived. If she made it, I would just have to say great shot.”

She didn’t. Wong’s dive to her right met the attempt perfectly. The ball caromed away harmlessly, setting off a Muhlenberg celebration.

Wong had last played in a shootout in high school, in a similar situation. “It was the quarterfinals of the playoffs,” she said. “I made three saves and we moved on, but I’ll take the one save I made today over that any day.”

Nicole Karsch
Karsch, in her third game starting at back after playing midfield for most of the year, helped the defense to its ninth shutout of the season - the most for the Mules since 2008.
The dramatic finish brought an end to a thrilling, hard-fought game in which both teams had chances, combining for 34 shots. The Green Terror (13-5-1) had the more dangerous scoring opportunities in the first half, but Wong made three spectacular saves, leaping to tip a ball over the crossbar in the 15th minute and making diving saves to her left and right later in the period.

The second half and overtimes were more evenly played as the teams fought to continue their seasons. Both goalies came up big late in regulation, with Wong making back-to-back reflex saves off a corner kick around the five-minute mark and the McDaniel keeper making two diving saves just moments later.

A Green Terror shot trickled just wide of the right post at the end of the first overtime, and the Mules took all four shots of the second extra period. But nothing went in, and the eighth shootout in CC playoff history was needed to decide matters.

Wong came up one short of tying the CC record for saves in a playoff game; ironically, the one that ended the game doesn’t count. But that hardly mattered to the co-captain.

“I think the amount of heart that everyone showed is all we could ask for,” she said. “Our defense never gave up and our offense kept attacking.

“It’s phenomenal. I’m just so proud of my teammates.”
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