WEST WINDSOR, N.J. — WEST WINDSOR, N.J. -- It was pack-it-up time for Essex Community College. It should have been, anyway. It just never came to that.
Essex put on a stunning rally to knock off host Mercer County Community College, 4-3, in a shootout in the opening round of the national junior college women's soccer tournament. Essex now faces defending-champ Meramec (Mo.) in this morning's first semifinal (10).
The second semifinal pits Catonsville Community College against Monroe (N.Y.). Catonsville, last year's runner-up, advanced with a 2-0 win over SUNY-Farmingdale (N.Y). This is the first time two Maryland teams have been in the national tournament. The consolation game will be played tomorrow and the final will be played Sunday.
Essex hadn't come from behind to win this year until yesterday. With 30 minutes to go Essex trailed, 3-1.
Leigh Biggerman made it 3-2 with 30 minutes to go, and Jill Fennekohl tied it with just nine minutes left off a tough angle from the right side. The teams played 30 scoreless minutes of overtime before settling it in a shootout.
Essex coach Scott Wittman sent Susana Blanco to take the first shot, and she converted. Fennekohl also converted, but Mercer nailed its first two to make it 2-2. Both teams then missed before Danette Lemerise converted in the fourth round. Blanco made consecutive saves to end it.
Catonsville was dominating in its win over the Long Island, N.Y., team. Michelle Yingling and Angela Farace scored first-half goals and it was never really a game after that.