In dramatic fashion, the Swarthmore College women's soccer team (13-6-1) claimed its first-ever Centennial Conference championship by outlasting No. 22 and perennial power Johns Hopkins 5-4 in penalty kicks. With the championship, the Garnet earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. The Garnet will face Connecticut College in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 15 at Montclair State's Pittser Field.
The triumph over Johns Hopkins was the culmination of a miraculous run for the Garnet, who entered the Centennial playoffs as the fifth and final seed, needing a 2-0 win over rival Haverford on the final day of the season just to make the playoff field. Once in the playoffs, the Garnet was unstoppable, reaching the championship match following road victories over No. 4 seed Muhlenberg (1-0) and No. 1 seed and nationally ranked Gettysburg (2-0).
In the deciding penalty-kick shootout, Claire O'Brien '18 converted what would stand as the winning marker in the eighth round by beating Hopkins goalkeeper Clara Aranguren, who entered the match for the shootout, with a shot to the lower left corner of the net. Swarthmore goalkeeper Reba Magier '16, a biology major from Saugus, Calif., followed by making her third save in the shootout on a shot attempt by Vania Ludman to clinch the match for the Garnet. Emma Sindelar '15, Mele Johnson '17, Aine Schanche '16 and Hannah Lichtenstein '17 also made their penalty kick attempts to propel the Garnet to the historic win. Magier was later named tournament MVP.
The shootout was needed to determine the conference champion after the two sides were knotted at 2-2 after 110 minutes of play. In regulation, Hannah Kronick put Johns Hopkins on the board first in the 12th minute when she received a through ball from Ana Bengoechea and fired a shot from the top of the box that landed in the back of the net. Swarthmore, however, had an answer within minutes as Caroline Khanna '17 dribbled the ball into the box and unleashed a shot to the upper 90 to make it 1-1 in the 15th minute of action.
The teams once again exchanged scores in the second half before playing 20 minutes of overtime. Kronick, the league's all-time leading scorer, came through again to temporarily put the Blue Jays ahead by one-timing the ball to the left post past Magier in the 54th minute.
Despite the setback, Swarthmore once again had an answer by capitalizing on a corner kick for the second time in three postseason matches in the 65th minute of play. Amanda Bosworth '16 won a scramble in the box and potted the goal on a cross taken by classmate Melissa Trofa, who tied a single-season program record by being credited with her team-leading eighth assist of the fall.
Magier made five saves in regulation before turning away three more in the shootout for the Garnet. Bennett of Johns Hopkins played all 110 minutes of regulation and redirected one shot before being relieved by Aranguren in the shootout.
Prior to the championship tournament, head coach Todd Anckaitis, in his 10th season, spoke of the team’s drive to work together toward a shared goal. “This team works hard, cares for each other and is living up to this year’s theme, UBUNTU (I am because we are)," he says. "We’ve worked through some adversity this season, but the team has brought a forward-looking, positive outlook to each training session and every match.”