FDU won its second Northeast Conference women’s soccer championship Sunday, defeating Sacred Heart 5-4 on penalty kicks after going through two overtime periods deadlocked at 2-2.
The Knights celebrated with a sideline scrum of joy as the estimated 700 Sacred Heart fans ringing the field headed to the exits.
The Knights took 110 minutes and five penalty kicks to improve to 8-10-3 overall and earn their ticket to the NCAA tournament.
Seeded fourth in the tournament meant playing all their matches on the road. They advanced to the championship tilt at Fairfield, Conn., on a gray and unseasonably warm afternoon.
FDU last won the title in 2015 and was in the championship game last year, losing to Central Connecticut, 3-0. The Knights avenged that loss by eliminating NEC-undefeated CCS by a 2-1 score in the semifinals Thursday night.
FDU will learn its next opponent Monday, Nov. 7, at 4 p.m. when the NCAA announces its tourney field via live stream.
FDU’s Madelyn Robbins, a graduate midfielder from Ontario, netted the fifth penalty kick after Sacred Heart missed on its final opportunity. Knights sophomore goalie Malene Nielsen, recovering from a tumble and collision with a Pioneer player on a save situation in the waning minutes of the second overtime, took her turn in goal for the penalties. She stopped SH’s fifth penalty to set up Robbins’ clincher.
Knight sophomore Kiomy Luperon headed a corner kick by tourney MVP Lea Egner into the net in the 55th minute to tie the score at 1-1. NEC Golden Boot award winner Aitana Martinez-Montoya scored on a penalty kick a minute later for a 2-1 FDU lead.
NEC Rookie of the Year Morgan Bovardi of Sacred Heart (11-5-5) forced the 2-2 tie when she scored in the 88th minute off a header pass.
NEC Defensive Player and Goalkeeper of the Year Alyssa Kipperman of SHU had a season-high 13 saves on 15 shots. Nielsen made three stops on five shots for the Knights.
NEC All-Tournament Team
Lea Egner, FDU (Tournament MVP)
Paula Ruess, FDU
Aitana Martinez-Montoya, FDU
Madelyn Robbins, FDU
Grace O’Hara, SHU
Laurene Jordan, SHU
Morgan Bovardi, SHU
Erin Tyldesley, MC
Hallie Shiers, MC
Victoria Violette, CCSU
Charley Simmons, CCSU
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In a screengrab from the streamcast of the NEC championship, FDU women’s soccer team members react to the moment they clinched the championship in dramatic fashion, on the road, winning at the league’s No. 1 and No. 3 teams to earn its first NEC women’s soccer title since 2015.