Lady Wildcats Claim Second Consecutive State Soccer Title
After cruising through the regular season portion of its Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference schedule, Pennsylvania College of Technology women's soccer coach Dan Hibbs knew his team would need to keep its focus in Saturday's championship game against Manor College.
"It's hard to beat a team three times in a row, and that's what we had to do," Hibbs said, recalling his Lady Wildcats' earlier 8-2 and 3-1 victories over Manor.
But Saturday, Penn College dug an early hole for itself, falling behind 2-0, before rallying for a 4-3 overtime victory that gave it its second consecutive EPCC crown.
"We went in feeling confident, but then things changed pretty quickly. It was scary, but we were up for the challenge. I knew we could come back . . . (but) they gave us all we wanted," Hibbs said.
Heather Ebling, a freshman from Wilson, got Penn College on the board before the end of the first half and, during the intermission, Hibbs' instructions were simple.
"I told the girls, 'Don't get in a panic mode. Get one (goal) back at a time, and then we can put it to them,' " the coach said.
Kim Kremer, a sophomore from Mifflinburg, temporarily knotted the score at 2 at the 56-minute mark, but Manor struck again, on a shot that just eluded the outstretched arm of Wildcat sophomore goalie Laura Rudenstein (Lower Merion), to take a 3-2 advantage with 10 minutes left.
"We were creating some opportunities, but nothing would fall," Hibbs said, noting that his club outshot Manor 20-9 during the match.
With less than two minutes left in regulation, Kremer, taking advantage of a decoy by Melissa McKee (sophomore/Milton) who screened the Manor goalie, took a shot that slid into the back of the goal untouched to force overtime.
In the sudden-death extra period, Penn College was able to capitalize on the momentum it had gained during the second half.
"We put pressure on them right away and Rebecca (Breary, a sophomore from Lansdale Catholic) kicked it and it went right over their goalie's head and into the opposite corner and that was it," Hibbs said.
"It was really exciting. The girls all went running out on the field and it was a great celebration. It was pretty neat," he added.
After going 8-2 for the second straight season and claiming his second league title, Hibbs named EPCC "Coach of the Year" was asked what his squad would do for an encore.
"Go for three the hat trick. We'll be at it again next year," he said.