Engineers Fall to Skidmore in Penalty Kicks at NCAA Tournament

Junior Emily Kuo

GRANTHAM, Pa. – Following a battle in regulation play and double overtime, the MIT women's soccer team lost 3-0 in the resulting shootout to Skidmore College in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Messiah College. The Engineers, who made their second national appearance in three seasons, finished the year with a ledger of 14-3-4 and tied the Institute record for longest unbeaten streak with nine decisions.

The Thoroughbreds applied the pressure earlier on as they threatened to get on the board in the opening minutes. MIT's first charge into its offensive zone came in the 20th minute which led to a corner kick. Following another corner kick five minutes later, junior Emily Kuo (Chicago, Ill.) sent a feed to fellow classmate Merricka Livingstone (Palm Bay, Fla.) just inside the box but her shot was wide. Skidmore attempted to break the deadlock on a low shot that was grabbed by junior goalie Meghan Wright (Devon, Pa.) with 10 minutes remaining in the half.

Kuo continued to lead the attack in the second stanza, registering a pair of shots on goal in the first six minutes. Her first bid was a run along the near sideline which brought Skidmore goalie Meaghan Sleezer off her line to defend the near post where she turned away Kuo's shot. Moments later, Kuo sprinted to the middle of the box and as she unleashed her shot, Sleezer met her with a diving stop. In the 60th minute, a free kick from junior Andrea Park (Irvine, Calif.) nearly ricocheted off a defender into the net but Sleezer made the quick grab.

The Thoroughbreds' best chance came with 13 minutes remaining in regulation. Lauren Madden sent a cross from the near side into the box which was quickly cleared out by sophomore Kaitlyn Nealon (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.). Rebecca Russo corralled the rebound and sent a lob into the box that bounced in front of Wright that caused her to punch the ball over the crossbar. On the ensuing corner kick, Madden's redirection sailed wide.

The only scoring chance in the first overtime session was a left-footed boot by Russo that was picked up by Wright. With 10 seconds remaining in the second overtime period, Kuo pursued a bouncing ball and her one-time tap nearly missed the net.

In the first round of the shootout, Wright turned away a low shot by Kelsey Russell as Sleezer made a leaping catch on Kuo's attempt. Abby Benton converted a low strike to the near corner while Park hit the crossbar. Elena Stansky increased Skidmore's margin with a boot to the top near corner as freshman Michelle Battipaglia's (Katonah, N.Y.) shot glanced off the far post. On what proved to be the final shot, Russo placed the ball inside the near post for the victory.

Wright finished the day with eight saves and earned her 10th shutout of the year.