LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall women's soccer opened its 2016 campaign on Thursday night at Tylus Field, falling prey to an 86th-minute goal that gave Shenandoah a 1-0 victory over a stubborn Diplomat team. F&M dropped to 0-1 with the defeat, while the Hornets improved to 1-0.
Shenandoah managed the game's only goal late in regulation, a long-range strike from Alysha McCleaf. The Hornet defender launched a shot from just outside the left side of the box that curled away from and over a diving Shannon Johnson-Finn, giving Shenandoah the late lead. A last-minute cross from Kate Kerr forced Shenandoah goalkeeper Erin Septer to make a dramatic punch as the ball lofted toward the far side of the net, but it proved to be too little too late for the Diplomats.
The tense ending resembled the back-and-forth action of the first half. F&M generated the best chances in the early going, beginning with a Kyra Judge shot in the third minute that was saved by Septer. The opportunities continued for the Diplomats in the 26th minute, when Kerr's shot from just outside the penalty box again forced Septer into action.
The tide began to turn in the later stages of the opening period, as F&M defender Sarah Mischianti made a dramatic sliding tackle to deny a Shenandoah attacker from close range in the 31st minute. In the 39th minute, a dangerous free kick from the Hornets required Johnson-Finn to punch the ball out of danger.
Despite the abundance of chances, the score remained tied at the halftime break. The Hornets held slender advantages in shots (5-4) and corners (2-1) as the sides remained deadlocked at 0-0.
The best chance of the game came for the Diplomats in the 53rd minute when Kerr drew a penalty kick. Kerr's ensuing shot deceived Septer, but struck her outstretched leg and stayed out. The chances returned to the Hornets following the penalty kick, with Mischianti and Johnson-Finn holding together a resilient back line for F&M. However, the Shenandoah offense proved to be too much in the late stages as the Hornets escaped with the win.
Judge led the Diplomat offense on the day, firing off four shots while Kerr attempted two. Shenandoah finished the game with a 21-7 edge in shots and a 7-2 advantage in corners.
Johnson-Finn fell to 0-1 on the season despite making seven saves on the night. Septer moved to 1-0 on the year, logging three saves in the victory.
F&M returns to the pitch on Saturday, visiting Rosemont at 1:00 p.m.