The Keuka College women's soccer team played top-seeded Penn State-Berks scoreless through 90 minutes of regulation during Saturday's North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) semifinal, but Berks broke through with a goal four minutes into overtime to end the Storm's season.
Junior Ashley Swarts (Arkport, NY/Arkport) made 15 saves, but it wasn't enough as the fifth-seeded Storm (9-6-1) suffered a tough 1-0, overtime setback against Berks (15-3-1), the NEAC's regular-season champion.
Berks advances to face either No. 2 Penn State-Abington (13-2-1) or No. 3 Lancaster Bible College (13-7) in the championship game at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The winner earns the NEAC's automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III tournament.
"We had dangerous scoring opportunities but we just couldn't finish," said Steve Christenson, the Storm's first-year head coach. "We definitely had chances to win this game. They gave everything they had and played with a lot of heart, and this was the best game we played collectively all year long. We had chances to finish but just didn't have the composure to finish off the shots. I couldn't have asked for more from this team."
This contest was much closer than the regular-season meeting, when Berks handed the Storm a 5-0 setback on Oct. 19.
Berks, which went undefeated (11-0) and outscored its conference foes 79-3 during the regular season, nearly struck first in the 20th minute, but Dana Sarcinello's shot hit the crossbar.
Berks would hit the post on two additional scoring chances later in the half as the game remained scoreless despite the Nittany Lions outshooting the Storm 17-2.
The Nittany Lions nearly took a 1-0 lead in the 60th minute, but Swarts stopped three shots in a span of eight seconds to keep Berks off the scoreboard.
Berks had a golden chance to take the lead at the end of regulation, but Morgan Shade's shot hit the post, and the two schools headed to overtime.
In the overtime, Swarts made a pair of big saves 26 seconds apart to keep the contest scoreless, but after a foul on the Storm, Simone Stewart's header sailed into the back of the net to lift the Nittany Lions past the Green and Gold.
Senior Jessica Bandrowski (Center Moriches, NY/Center Moriches), a playmaking forward who ranks among the nation's best Division III women's soccer players in points per game, recorded two of the Storm's four shots on goal, but each time Keuka threatened, Savannah Cramer (four saves) was there with an answer.
Bandrowski closed the year with 43 points on 17 goals and nine assists, ranking second in the NEAC in assists and third in both goals and points. She ranked in the top 10 in the country in points per game, and the top 20 in goals per game.