Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. — The New York Tech women's soccer team is one win away from the first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.
Hannah Franco scored in the 82nd minute off an assist from Casey Luongo and third-seeded Tech defeated second-seeded Mercy, 2-1, in an East Coast Conference semifinal match on Thursday.
The victory came in the first postseason match in Tech women's soccer's 25-year history.
The Bears will face the winner of top-seeded Bridgeport and fourth-seeded Molloy on Sunday for the ECC's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Bridgeport hosts Molloy at 5 p.m. Thursday.
"We all wanted it so badly," Franco said. "We all wanted to make history. That's exactly what we did. Casey and I pushed."
Kelly Gerdes had buried a penalty kick in the 39th minute after Luongo drew a foul in the box to stake the Bears to a 1-0 lead. However, Trista Seara — a back moved to forward during the second half with Mercy needing the equalizer — tied the score in the 76th minute on Mercy's 10th shot.
Gerdes arrived at Tech this season with a final year of eligibility remaining after a standout career at Division I Hofstra. Already in possession of bachelor's and master's degrees, she is pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy at Tech alongside her twin sister Katie, who used her entire eligibility at Hofstra.
All four of Gerdes' career goals have now come this season, including a penalty-kick score in a 1-1 draw against Mercy in the Oct. 19 regular-season meeting between the teams at President's Stadium on Long Island.
Goalkeeper Nicole Genis — one of five freshmen in the starting lineup for Tech — limited the potent Mavericks to the lone second-half goal.
Tech improved to 7-6-3. It had been playing for the first time in 12 days after its nonconference season finale at Caldwell was canceled last weekend due to unplayable field conditions.
Mercy, which has surrendered only 11 goals this season, dropped to 13-3-2.
"It's huge. It's great for our program," coach Karim Diallo said. "These kids went through a lot this season. I'm very proud of them. I'm very proud of the effort."
Provided by the New York Tech Sports Information Department.