For Immediate Release
December 3, 2011
Pensacola, Fla. – The College of Saint Rose women's soccer team won the Division II National Championship today with a 2-1 win over the two-time defending champion Grand Valley State University Lakers. It is the first team national title in the history of the Saint Rose athletic department.
Saint Rose advanced to the National Semifinal round in each of the previous three years, but had never advanced to the championship game until defeating Armstrong Atlantic State University on Thursday afternoon to punch their ticket to today's championship game. Their first trip to the championship finals was a successful one as they defeated the Lakers, 2-1 at the Brosnaham Complex in Pensacola, Fla.
Saint Rose completes their championship season with a 24-1-1 record; while Grand Valley State suffers their first defeat of the season to end their year with a mark of 20-1-4.
It is the first title for the Northeast-10 Conference in women's soccer since Franklin Pierce University won the national title in 1999. Saint Rose's appearance in the finals was the first championship game representative from the conference since the Ravens played for a title in 2007.
Carmelina Puopolo scored two second-half goals to lead the Golden Knights to the come from behind championship victory.
Grand Valley State's Ashley Botts opened the scoring in the 32nd minute of the first half as her strike from about 20 yards away just got past the outstretched hands of Saint Rose goalkeeper Jessica Gerski. Both teams would have solid chances to score throughout the first 45 minutes, but the Lakers took a 1-0 lead into the intermission break.
That lead would evaporate quickly in the second half, however, as Puopolo would get the equalizer three minutes into the second half to tie the game at one apiece. The sophomore from Scarborough, Ontario would not wait long to give Saint Rose the game-winner as she beat Grand Valley State goalkeeper Chelsea Parise on an impressive display of ball handling and a gorgeous finish across the goal face giving the Golden Knights their first lead of the championship.
Puopolo, a first-team all Northeast-10 Conference selection, led the league in goals this season, and her 19th of the year would prove to be the championship winner for Saint Rose.
Grand Valley State had some outstanding scoring opportunities late, including a chaotic span with just about five minutes remaining, when Maria Brown had a point-blank range opportunity hit the Saint Rose goalpost but bounced back into the field of play. Botts had a put back opportunity but her effort was shot well over the top of the Saint Rose goal.
Saint Rose goalkeeper Jessica Gerski was solid once again today, turning aside five shots on goal in the championship victory.
The Golden Knights complete a remarkable 2011 season with twelve consecutive wins, including today's 2-1 championship victory.
During the year, Saint Rose claimed the Northeast-10 regular season title, the conference championship title, and ultimately the first national title in program and school history.
The two goals scored by Saint Rose were the most Grand Valley State allowed in a single game all season, and the loss was just the second suffered by Lakers' goalkeeper Parise in her career.
Puopolo was named the 2011 Women's Soccer Championship Most Valuable Offensive Player, and teammate Sydney Bond was named the Most Valuable Defensive Player. Also, named to the All Tournament team were Gerski, defenseman Derith Fernandes, and midfielder Gianna D'Errico.
The Northeast-10 is an association of 16 NCAA Division II colleges and universities located in New England and New York that is committed to supporting balanced academic and athletic opportunities for more than 5,500 student-athletes. Each year, 4,000 of those student-athletes compete in Conference championships in 23 sports, making the NE-10 the largest DII conference in the country. Leading the way in the classroom, on the field and within the community, the Northeast-10 is proud of its comprehensive program and the experience it provides student-athletes.