With under a minute to play in a scoreless match between the American University women's soccer team and the Bucknell Bison on Friday night, freshman Kristin Piorun made the biggest play of her young collegiate career.
On the play, second-seeded American (11-9, 5-2 PL) earned a free kick from around 40 yards out in Bucknell territory with 50 seconds to play in a 0-0 match. Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year Friederike Engel fed the free kick deep inside the goalbox to the head of Kelsey Brasher, who flicked it across to the foot of Michelle Montilio. From there, Montilio got a touch to Piorun for the short-range game-winner, her second goal of the season.
After AU's goal, No. 3 seed Bucknell (10-7-1, 5-2 PL) hustled right back down the field and had a game-tying attempt in the waning seconds. Chelsea McGorry fired a free kick wide of the goal for the Bison and American prevailed with the 1-0 victory in a match that was played on the campus of Colgate in Hamilton, N.Y.
In the match, the Eagles outshot Bucknell, 14-9, and held an 8-3 advantage in shots on goal. Piorun led AU with five shots, three of which were on target.
American goalkeeper Arianna Efstathiou played all 90 minutes in goal and recorded two saves. This was her seventh shutout of the season.
"It took everything we had to beat a great Bucknell team," commented American University Head Coach David Bucciero. "We fought with a lot of heart and determination and I am so happy for the team."
With the victory, the Eagles move onto the Patriot League Championship Game for the first time since 2003. American's only conference title in the 19 previous seasons in program history came in 2002 with a 2-1 victory over Colgate in the Patriot League Finals.
In the PL Championship on Sunday, the Eagles will square off against Colgate, the top-seed and tournament host. The match will be played at 1 p.m. in Hamilton, N.Y. The winner of Sunday's contest will win the Patriot League crown and earn the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
In the regular season matchup between American and Colgate, the Raiders prevailed 1-0 in double overtime in a match that was also contested at Colgate. Sunday's match can be watched live on Patriot League All-Access.