HAMILTON, N.Y. – Postseason games decided in penalty kicks always deliver a cruel fate to one of the sides, and Tuesday night at Van Doren Field it was Bucknell’s women’s soccer team walking off in heartache as one shot off the crossbar was the difference. After 110 minutes of scoreless play, Colgate prevailed 5-4 in penalties and will advance to the Patriot League Tournament semifinals to play second-seeded Boston University on Friday in Annapolis, Md. Bucknell’s season ends at 7-9-2.
These two teams played to a 1-1 draw in Lewisburg two weeks ago, and they were dead even again on Tuesday. The Bison held the Patriot League’s second-highest-scoring team to eight total shots and no goals in 110 minutes, with freshman goalkeeper Jessica Ratner earning her second shutout in three starts this season.
The back four of Courtney Nelson, Hannah Bonotto, Lauren Dandie and Montana Paley were rock solid, limiting Colgate’s chances even though the Raiders had the advantage in possession time. Bucknell also fought off nine Colgate corner kicks.
Nelson, who earned All-Patriot League honors on Monday, reacted quickly to thwart a possible breakaway chance with 10 minutes left in regulation. Ratner’s best save of the night was a point-blank stop on all-leaguer Caroline Brawner with 4:34 left in the second overtime.
Ratner was officially credited with three saves, but she was at her best outside the 6-yard box, where she came out to corral a number of dangerous balls on crosses and corner kicks.
Bucknell took 11 shots in the match, eight of them coming after halftime. With 24 minutes to play in regulation, Evelyn Nicinski headed a corner kick toward the left post and the ball tantalizingly sat inside the 6 before being nudged away by a defender and finally scooped up by keeper Brenna Mason.
Chelsey Garkowski took two of her game-high five shots in overtime, and Nicinski had the best look of the night just inside three minutes remaining in the first OT period. Nicinski stole the ball from a Colgate defender and executed a pretty give-and-go with Garkowski to get space inside the penalty area, but she could not get full steam on her shot and it was picked up by Mason.
The two freshman goalkeepers were flawless all night, but then in penalty kicks they witnessed some precision shooting from both sides. Nicinski began the PK session by calmly burying a shot into the right side of the net. Liz Dwornik did the same in round two, but both times the Raiders answered.
In the top of the third inning, Alexis Gannon hammered a shot that froze the goalkeeper, but it was inches high and bounded down off the crossbar. Caroline Williams then put Colgate ahead 3-2. Hannah Bonotto and Brigit Falcón scored for the Bison, but sisters Jenna and Lexi Panepinto followed them both up with goals of their own, the Raiders prevailed 5-4 in PKs.
“Losing in penalties is a tough way to go out, but I couldn’t be prouder of the effort,” said Ben Landis afterward. “Our back four did very well, and we were able to absorb their pressure all night. Our counter was good for us, but we just couldn’t get one in. I feel for our seniors, but I want to thank them for all they have meant to the program.”
Tuesday’s other semifinal match was also decided in penalty kicks after Army and American played to a scoreless deadlock. American advanced 3-1 in PKs and will face top-seeded Navy on Friday in Annapolis.