KINGSTON, RI - La Salle women’s soccer wins its first-ever Atlantic 10 Championship title en route to head coach Paul Royal’s 100th win with a 2-1 overtime win against VCU.
Junior Renee Washington (Ewing, NJ / Pennington Prep) scored both goals for the Explorers (17-4-1), who advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. The pairings will be announced on Monday at 4:30 PM on NCAA.com. A watch party that begins at 4:15 PM in Gola Arena is open to the public. Free food and drinks will be available as well as an opportunity to congratulate the team.
La Salle has won the A-10 regular season championship the past two seasons and has a combined 32-6-4 record in the past two seasons.
“I think this is huge,” said Royal. “This is a great victory for the La Salle community. Our girls have worked so hard, setting the bar so high, but in the end it’s really for that La Salle community. We had a lot of fans come out today from back in Philly and it’s huge to see the impact that we made on the community and we’re just happy to be part of it.”
La Salle’s first goal came just over two minutes into the second half when Washington buried a beautiful pass from freshmanJessika Kagan (Dix Hills, N.Y. / Half Hollow Hills East) past VCU goalkeeper and all-tournament team member Kristin Carden and into the back of the net.
The Explorers relinquished a goal to the rams just 12 minutes later, when VCU’s Maren Johansen finished a pass from Breiana White in front of the net.
The game remained tied through the rest of regulation despite the onslaught of offensive opportunities from both teams. La Salle goalkeeper Gabrielle Pakhtigian (North Wales, Pa. / North Penn) recorded eight saves in the game including two diving blocks on VCU breakaways that kept the Explorers in striking distance.
It wasn’t until the extra frame, in the 99th minute, that La Salle would convert a restart into a game-winning goal. Sophomore Maryam Huseini fielded the restart from 35 yards out, sending a well-struck ball into the box, off the head of Washington and into the goal.
“I think the timing of things is tremendous,” said Royal. “Obviously we had a real close game against Princeton and a draw against Temple, it’s just amazing to have my hundredth win with a NCAA tournament at stake. All the work goes to the girls, they persevered, this senior class has won over 50 games and it’s thanks to them.”