Fall Teams Ready To Begin Postseason
MEDIA, Pa. -- Five of Penn State Brandywine's fall teams will begin the postseason this week beginning Thursday when the Penn State University Athletic Conference Volleyball Tournament gets underway.
Two days later, Brandywine's men's and women's cross country teams will run for the league championships at Penn State Mont Alto and the Lions' men's and women's soccer teams will begin their title defenses in the PSUAC Tournament semifinals.
Brandywine's men's and women's cross country teams are led by a pair of of sophomores in Brian Abel and Catharine Mooney. This fall, Abel owns three top-five finishes, including medalist honors at the DelVal Invitational, while Mooney has post a trio of top-eight finishes in four races, winning the Brandywine Invitational in September.
Abel's time of 26:55 at the Salisbury Invitational was not only a new school record time, but the top 8K mark by a PSUAC men's runner this season and one of the best in the league's history. Mooney set a personal best and school record in the 5K and owns the fastest 6K time of any PSUAC woman this fall (27:46). Mooney was the conference runner-up during her freshman season, while Abel placed third at last year's PSUAC Championship.
Brandywine's men, bolstered by a strong freshman class, have an opportunity to win the first conference championship in team history. The Lions have finished as the conference runner-up three times during the last four seasons. Fayette has won the last three men's championships, while Schuylkill is the two-time defending women's champion.
The PSUAC Championships begin with the women's championship at 1:00 pm at Norlo Park in Fayetteville, Pa.
Men's soccer will take aim at a fourth-straight conference championship and a sixth in the last seven years. The Lions are seeded No. 1 after rolling through the PSUAC with an unbeaten record for the fourth-straight year. Brandywine will enter Saturday's semifinal match with a 51-match unbeaten streak against conference foes that dates back to 2015.
Brandywine will host the semifinal match beginning at 5:30 pm at the West Chester United turf field in West Chester. The Lions will face the winner of Wednesday's quarterfinal between No. 4 Lehigh Valley and No. 5 Mont Alto.
Brandywine has the conference's top-ranked defense after yielding just one goal in nine PSUAC matches. The Lions outscored opponents 34-1 in those matches. Freshman goalkeeper Juan Guerrero faced only 11 shots in eight PSUAC games, stopping 10.
The Lions feature a balanced offensive attack with seven players having scored at least five goals. Freshman Axel Ayllon-Ortiz leads the team with 27 points on nine goals and nine assists, while classmate Gavin Birch has netted a team-best 10 goals.
The winners of Saturday's semifinal matches will play for the PSUAC Championship Wednesday in State College beginning at 6:30 pm.
Women's soccer has reached the PSUAC title match in all four years as a varsity team and will need a victory over Penn State Scranton Saturday night to make it five consecutive championship appearances. The Lions have won each of the past three conference titles.
Brandywine owns a 7-0 home victory over Scranton in September and have never lost to Scranton in five all-time meetings. Brianna Banks piled up 11 points on five goals and one assist in this season's triumph over Scranton. Brandywine outshot the visitors 41-1 in that match.
Banks tops all PSUAC scorers with a single-season team record 34 goals, 15 more than her closest competitor. The three-time PSUAC Player of the Year scored in all six conference matches and has netted goals in 12-straight games overall entering Saturday.
Brandywine had its way in the PSUAC, finishing its conference slate unbeaten for the fourth-straight year. The Lions outscored opponents 25-4 in six matches, but did need overtime to top Hazleton, which is the No. 3 seed and visits Mont Alto in the other semifinal matchup.
The two semifinal winners will face off Wednesday at 4:00 pm in State College.
Volleyball is the No. 2 seed out of the PSUAC East Division and will begin the postseason Thursday on its home floor against No. 3 Lehigh Valley at 7:00 pm. A victory would send Brandywine to the tournament semifinals for the eighth-straight year. Brandywine claimed PSUAC championships in 2015 and 2017.
The Lions finished the season 11-1 in the conference, winning their final nine league matches, including a pair of victories over Lehigh Valley. Brandywine won in four sets on the road and swept Lehigh Valley at home earlier this month. Brandi James tallied 15 kills and Rebecca Gonzalez recorded 40 assists, while Gianna Anthony totaled 28 digs during the two previous matchups.
James leads the Lions with 126 kills and ranks second behind Anthony's 273 digs with 216. Overall, five Lions have posted over 90 kills and 90 digs.
Thursday's winner will meet the highest remaining seed from the PSUAC West Division in Monday's semifinal, which is slated to begin at 7:00 pm inside Penn State's historic Rec Hall. The championship is scheduled for Tuesday at 6:00 pm.