The ladies are commanding attention with St. Francis squads making some noise in the NEC and the nation.
It was a history-making weekend for the Red Flash women's soccer team. They've been playing in Loretto for a quarter-century, the last six years under coach Brenda van Stralen; now they have finally risen to the top of the Northeast Conference, earning their first-ever NEC title.
The Flash had never won a playoff game before; they advanced to the championship game by posting a 2-2 overtime tie against Quinnipiac in the semifinals.
The underdog squad had to knock off top-seeded Long Island to capture their historic crown. They did it with a single goal - by NEC Player of the Year Tesa McKibben and a lock-down defense. Senior goalkeeper Lauren Fearer racked up six saves in the victory, as the Flash improved their program-best record to 15-4-2.
Now the squad gets ready for another chapter in the Flash history books: their first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament. St. Francis will continue their underdog status as they travel to Ohio State to face the No. 3 seeded Buckeyes next weekend. Penn State will take on Penn at West Virginia.
For many years, the Nittany Lions have been a Big Ten and national power; now our region has two Division-I teams to follow in the Women's College Cup.
While St. Francis soccer celebrates 25 years of working toward their title, the Red Flash women's bowling team can be called the new kids on campus. They have made history simply by putting on their jerseys and taking to the lanes for the first year of competition in Loretto.
The Flash are already proving to be a force against national competition, notching two wins over top-20 teams at this weekend's Jersey Invitational at Fairleigh Dickinson.
The Red Flash rolled their way to a 955-866 victory over No. 7 Delaware State, who they defeated twice during the event, and then topped Morgan State, ranked 16th.
St. Francis wanted to provide more opportunities for women athletes, and they have done themselves proud with their inaugural bowling team. Coach Tom Falbo has taken the attitude that to be the best, you must face the best, and that is paying off early for this young squad.
Two of the six athletes on the team hail from Altoona. Senior Christina Medley and junior Emily Knott will have the chance to bring their college team to their home town for the team's first home event, Dec. 4th and 5th at Holiday Bowl. The St. Francis University NCAA Women's Invitational will also feature Penn State Altoona among other Pennsylvania colleges as well as some expected national powers.
From soccer to bowling, these talented teams of ladies are giving the Red Flash plenty to cheer about.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Kellie@BedfordCountyChamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.