ALBANY, NY - The #22 Merrimack women's soccer team suffered a 5-0 loss at #10 Saint Rose in the East Region semifinal of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon at the Plumeri Sports Complex. With the loss, the Warriors end the season with a 16-4-2 overall record. The Golden Knights improved to 20-1-1 on the year and advance to the finals of the East Region bracket where they will take on UMass Lowell.
The hosts nearly notched a goal at the end of the first half has Carmelina Puopolo broke in on goal alone. Krista Fazio (Syosset, NY) recovered well and caught up to the attacker to impede her clear path to goal, forcing her towards the left sideline. Fazio stuck her leg in to deflect Puopolo's shot out of bounds, allowing the Warriors' defense to set up.
Third-seed Merrimack and Saint Rose, the second seed in the East Region bracket, went into the halftime intermission tied at 0-0.
At the break, the Golden Knights held a 7-5 advantage in shots while the Warriors owned a 5-2 margin in shots on goal.
The Golden Knights tallied their first goal of the game in the 55th minute as Puopolo poked the ball into the left corner of the cage to give the home team a 1-0 edge.
The home side came close to tacking on a goal in the 56th minute. A loose ball fell to Puopolo's feet inside the penalty area with the Merrimack net vacant. After settling the ball, she sent a shot along the turf destined for the cage. Just before the attempt could reach its target, Kara Hennigan (Pawtucket, RI) cleared the ball off of the goal line with a lunging effort.
Just one minute later, Sydney Bond doubled Saint Rose's lead to two goals with her 11th of the year. Christina Cuffari laced a free kick on frame which Merrimack goalkeeper Kiley Horne (Scituate, MA) knocked down. Bond crashed the penalty box and one-touched the rebound into the roof of the net.
Brittany Godin increased the Golden Knights' advantage to 3-0 with a redirection into the goal for her 13th marker of the year. Puopolo dribbled the ball to the end line on the right side before sending a low cross into the box. Godin's one-time shot found the back of the net at the 60 minute mark.
Saint Rose pushed the score to 4-0 as Brittany Barry tallied an unassisted goal in the 69th minute of play. Barry buried a strike from inside the penalty box to record her 13th of the fall.
Puopolo netted her second goal of the game in the 74th minute to cap off the scoring. Godin floated a service into the box and the ball skipped off of Puopolo's head, changing direction and bouncing into the corner of the cage.
The Golden Knights concluded the match with 22 shots while the Warriors registered nine on the day. Merrimack posted identical 3-1 margins in corner kicks in both periods to finish with a 6-2 edge.
Horne stopped six shots in the contest between the pipes for the visitors. Jessica Gerski made five saves in goal for Saint Rose.
"This was a great season and I am really proud of the way we play all year long," said head coach Gabe Mejail "I was pleased with our play in the first half and Saint Rose turned up the pressure in the second. I was proud of the way our players stayed focused and composed throughout the entire game.
The 2011 NCAA Tournament marked the Warriors' 11th bid to the postseason tournament and first since 2009.
Merrimack edged sixth-seeded Holy Family in the first round to reach the regional semifinals, advancing with a 5-3 decision in penalty kicks November 11.