No. 8 Saint Rose advances to final on 10-year championship anniversary

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (NEWS10) — The College of Saint Rose moved one victory away from winning its second women’s soccer national championship behind today’s 2-1 semifinal victory versus Dallas Baptist at Switchbacks FC Stadium.

The Golden Knights will now be making their second national championship showing. The other came 10 years ago when they won the title behind a 2-1 win versus none other than top-ranked Grand Valley State (23-1-2) who Saint Rose will face Saturday at 2:00 pm EST/12:00 pm MT. The Lakers have won six national titles, four in the past seven years, and advanced behind today’s 3-0 semifinal victory versus Lenoir-Rhyne.

As for this afternoon, freshman back Ryleigh Hopeck and junior forward Kaelyn Britt accounted for the two strikes while fifth-year and two-time All-American keeper Marika Laurendeau was at her best when it mattered most by recording five of her season-high 10 saves in the last 10 minutes to secure the victory.

“We knew that they were going to be athletic. We knew that the game by design was going to be very direct. We believed in our ability to prepare our players to defend collectively and to also have our players ready for their one v one matchups in a manner that we could persevere. We also believed that we could get in behind them because we have some very talented offensive players,” said head coach Laurie Darling Gutheil.

Laurendeau was simply outstanding. She made a key diving stop at the 53:00 mark off a shot by junior midfielder Michelle Gonzalez that was played from about 8-yards out off a cross sent in by fifth-year midfielder Abigail Olsmos. She then stood tall through a flurry of three shots in the last three minutes.

Saint Rose put itself in position of never having to play from behind by striking early. Hopeck volleyed a ball from 35-yards out on the right flank that bounced in the middle of the area and over the Patriots’ keeper’s head with 6:43 elapsed for her first collegiate career goal.

Midway through the second half, Britt added an insurance marker when she finished a feed from 15-yards away on the left side of the area after collecting a pass from freshman forward Lexi Grassia.

However, the Patriots made it interesting after junior midfielder Melanie Castelan slipped a shot inside the right post with 77:00 gone by to once again make it a one-goal affair.

Overall, the first half was fairly evenly played with Dallas Baptist generating a 10-9 shot advantage, although the Golden Knights owned a 3-2 edge in those on target. Each squad manufactured three corner kicks.

The second half proved to be a different story though as the Patriots pushed forward to generate a 15-2 shot advantage throughout the final 45 minutes. Regardless, Saint Rose proved more than up to task of adding another game to its 2021 docket.

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