BENNINGTON >> For the second year in a row, the Southern Vermont College women's soccer team will play in the second round of the New England Collegiate Conference tournament.
In their first home playoff game in school history, the No. 3 seed SVC cruised to a 4-0 victory over sixth-seed Newbury on Tuesday to advance to the semifinals.
Less then five minutes into the game, SVC's leading scorer, Molly Madore, got the Mountaineers on the board early, with her 15th goal of the season.
Her 15 goals are a SVC record for freshmen.
"I was so excited to get the team going with that first goal," Madore said. "I think it calmed our nerves down a bit and got us hyped."
The nerves seemed to affect the Mountaineers early. After Madore's goal, the offense was not able to capitalize on their scoring chances and played too conservative for the rest of the first half.
"The pressure of playing our first home game in school history got to us I think a bit in the first half," said SVC head coach Michael Zauzig. "Even after Molly's goal, we still felt the nerves and were playing too conservatively on offense."
That all changed in the second half, where the Mountaineers took total control.
With two minutes gone in the second half, senior Abigail Rosas placed a perfect corner kick in the middle of the crease, where midfielder Naya Cerda found forward Ally McNamee to double the lead.
Ten minutes later, Cerda got her second assist of the game, this time on a great throw in to senior Katelyn Raymond for a score that gave the Mountaineers a 3-0 lead.
"We started winning those 50-50 balls and that gave us more chances to score goals," Zauzig said. "I think that gave more confidence as the game went, which helped us pull away in the second half."
SVC's defense upheld the lead in the second half. Goalie Melissa Mascari had five of her seven saves in the second half, leading to the sophomore racking up her sixth shutout of the season.
"Communications between me and my defense was a big reason why we were able to keep Newbury off the board today," Mascari said.
Mascari's shutout against Newbury tied her for the most shutouts in a single season in school history.
Junior Lauren Nesshoever sealed the deal for SVC with a goal in the final seconds for the winning margin.
With the win, SVC improves to 11-6-1 on the season and will go on the road to play No. 2 Elms in the NECC semifinals on Thursday.