Essex Community College controlled play for much of the game, but it needed a goal from Jill Fennekohl with 11:43 left for a 1-0 victory over visiting Catonsville Community College in the NJCAA Region XX soccer title game yesterday.
Both teams advance to the NJCAA tournament starting Nov. 19 at Mercer County (N.J.) Community College. Essex (15-0-1), ranked third nationally, plays the host school, which tied the Knights, 2-2, in the regular season. This is Essex's first region title since 1987, the final year of a six-year string of region titles.
Catonsville (12-6), ranked ninth nationally, takes on Anderson (S.C.) College. The Cardinals defeated Essex in last year's region title game and lost in the national title game.
The game-winning play started when Kim Dorzey sent a corner kick into the box. The ball was headed out, but Fennekohl raced in and headed it past goalkeeper Mickey Burns inside the near post.
"The ball was headed out, and the opportunity was there," said Fennekohl.
Essex squandered many opportunities, mainly due to Burns' stellar play. The Catonsville goalkeeper made 16 saves, many of them acrobatic.
"She should be an All-American," said Catonsville coach Tom Taylor.
Essex dominated play much of the time, outshooting Catonsville, 17-8. Still, the Knights were unable to put the ball in the goal.
Loyola's first season in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference ended in the championship game with a shootout loss to Iona.
Neither team scored through 120 minutes, and the Gaels (12-6-2) won the shootout, 3-2, when the Greyhounds (11-7-1) converted two of five penalty kicks.