Women’s soccer off to good start

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The IUP women’s soccer team kicked off the 2016 season last Thursday at George P. Miller Stadium in a Pennsylvania State
Athletic Conference (PSAC) showdown against the
Lakers of Mercyhurst University.
Defense proved to be the theme in this early conference matchup, in which the Crimson Hawks were defeated 1-0, despite outshooting Mercyhurst 14-9.
The game started out slowly, with a scoreless first half that included just five saves from both teams. Things picked up in the second half, especially for IUP, as they had nine of their 14 shots and added seven corner kick opportunities, compared to just four shots and just two corner kicks from Mercyhurst.
Kiersten Zerbe (senior, exercise science) led the way for the Hawks with three shots in the game, including two shots on goal. Mercyhurst forward Rebekah Craig scored the game’s lone goal in the 53rd minute that proved to be the game-winner for the Lakers.
Game two of the three-game home stretch featured another early season in-conference matchup for IUP as they hosted the Clarion University Golden Eagles on Saturday afternoon. This game served as an important opportunity for the Crimson Hawks to bounce back to improve to .500 in the PSAC.
IUP did just that, capturing their first win of the season in yet another one-goal game with a final score of 2-1. Despite the final score, almost every other stat in the box score indicated that the Crimson Hawks dominated this game. IUP outshot Clarion 16-3, including only one shot in the first half for the Golden Eagles.
Undeterred by a lack of scoring opportunities, Clarion jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 47th minute. Midfielder Megan Coyne (junior, athletic training) notched the score up at 1 with a penalty kick goal in the 67th minute. Lexie Palluconi (junior, child development and family relations) then gave the Hawks the lead with the go-ahead goal in the 74th minute.
The third and most recent game for IUP resulted in another victory against a non-conference opponent in Davis & Elkins College. Palluconi and Zerbe
each watched their second goals of the season go through the net Tuesday afternoon, proving to be enough to outscore the Senators, 2-1.
The Crimson Hawks found themselves in another defensive battle early on, as neither team scored in the first half. Palluconi struck first in the 50th minute, coming from an assist from Brandie Bryant (junior, athletic training). Zerbe then followed with a goal of her own in the 65th minute off of a corner kick feed from Kristen Baumgartner (junior, biology).
“It’s a long season,” coach Adeal Heder said. “We are in a very tough conference and every game is important.
The team is working very hard they show improvement every day at practice and in every game.”
IUP will return to action at 1:30 p.m. Saturday when they take on Mansfield.