Lady Lions rally late and roll to victory in season opener

Ariel Rowlands dribbles up the sideline.
Ariel Rowlands dribbles up the sideline.

Clarks Summit, Pa. - The Lady Lions entered Defender territory on Friday afternoon and gave Clarks Summit University all they could handle as they rallied from a 6-4 second half deficit in the final 10 minutes of action to take the season opener by the score of 7-6. Hazleton had no answer for Clarks Summits' Stewart Simone who tallied all six Defender scores on Friday. Four of Simone's goals came in the second half, as the Defenders overcame a two-goal deficit of their own, but sophomore Breann Fetterman (Mountain Top, Pa.) and junior Katie Oldziejewski (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) led the charge with a pair of late goals to knot the game at 6-6 and sophomore Madison Polumbo capped the comeback with a game-winning penalty kick in the final moments of play to send Hazleton home a winner. 

Hazleton was out-shot 20-11 but the Lady Lions made the most of their opportunities converting goals at a 63 percent clip. Freshman Devon Keiper (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) earned honors as the winning goalkeeper, picking up 11 saves in her debut for Hazleton. 

Moments that Mattered

1st Half

Scores from sophomore Breann Fetterman and junior Ariel Rowlands (Dorrance, Pa.) helped Hazleton keep pace throughout the first period until a well placed paced pass gave the Lady Lions their first lead of the game.  The sophomore played a through ball past the Clarks Summit defense in the final minute of the first half to a streaking Oldziejewski who played the ball in stride. The junior forward struck a laser past the keeper on the left side to give Hazleton a 3-2 cushion heading into the midway point.

2nd Half

Oldziejewski would stay on point as play resumed. Just five minutes into the second half action, Rowlands issued a fine crossing pass into the 18, finding a wide open Oldziejewski who tucked the ball into the net for her second score of the game, giving Hazleton a 4-2 advantage.

The next 28 minutes would be dominated by the speedy Stewart Simone as the forward led the Defenders on a 4-0 scoring run. Simone would run down passes and dart past the Lady Lions for two straight scores coming at the 56:15 and 63:23 marks coming on assists by Ruth Holloman. Simone would give the Defenders a two score lead over the 15 minutes of play, cleaning up a shot attempt off the crossbar and a sixth score of the unassisted variety following a Clarks Summit corner kick with just 12 minutes remaining in the game. 

The Lady Lions refused to give up and found their second wind after the four goal drought. Madison Polumbo would connect with Fetterman on a corner kick to cut the deficit to one goal, and with five minutes remaining in regulation Hazleton would knot the score at 6-6 as Fetterman picked up her second assist to Oldziejewski, giving the junior a hat-trick on the day. With momentum on their side, Hazleton would stay on the attack and with just 1:32 to play, Clarks Summit would commit a fateful foul in their own 18. Maddie Polumbo stepped to the ball, delivering the penalty kick past the Defender keep to complete the Lady Lion comeback and give Hazleton the 7-6 victory.

Next Up

Hazleton will look to remain undefeated as they continue non-conference play on the road. The Lady Lions will travel to SUNY Delhi on Sunday for a 1:00 p.m. matchup with the United States Collegiate Athletic Association opponent.