This is the first time that the IUP soccer team has been nationally ranked since 2014.

For the first time since 2014, the IUP women’s soccer team is playing games as a nationally ranked team. The No. 14 Crimson Hawks are off to a fast start, winning their opening two games.

The team defeated West Virginia Wesleyan College by a score of 2-0 this past Sunday in a non-conference matchup.

Goals were scored by Mahogany Willis (senior, communications media) and Camila Gonzalez–Toledo (junior, criminology).

Both goals came in the first fifteen minutes of the game.

Goaltender Samantha Gildner (junior, athletic training) played a strong game in net with 12 saves on 15 shots.

The Crimson Hawks tallied nine shots and three corners on the Bobcats.

Head coach Adel Heder was pleased with the victory.

“[The] first game is always good to win,” Heder said, “[It] motivates the team and builds confidence.”

The Bobcats were good competition and a worthy test for the Crimson Hawks to start the season. IUP did not take them lightly.

“West Virginia Wesleyan is a good team,” Heder said. “We played aggressive, a lot of good decisions, and won 50/50 balls. We took advantage of it, and we scored two goals.”

There is a very short turnaround time in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) soccer, typically only three, maybe four days, between games.

The team moved on to its second game of the season which took place on Wednesday night.

Next on the schedule for Heder and his squad were the California University of Pennsylvania (Cal-U) Vulcans. This was their first conference game of the season.

Cal-U had lost its previous game on Saturday to Lock Haven University by a score of 1-0.

Prior to game time, Heder shared some thoughts on the big away conference matchup.

“The teams in our conference are good,” Heder said. “We need to carry the winning attitude to this game.”

The Crimson Hawks did exactly that.

IUP defeated the Vulcans on Wednesday night by a score of 2-1, winning in dramatic comeback fashion.

The only first half points came from the Vulcans with a goal scored by Juliana Cruz.

The Hawks went into halftime trailing 1-0.

Things changed in the second half. Kristen Finnerty (sophomore, interior design) scored after a full 66 minutes. Then just a few minutes later, Hannah Scardina (sophomore, pre-physical therapy) split the defense and scored the game-winning goal off a beautiful assist pass from goaltender Gildner.

Gildner and the defense went on to shut the door and the Hawks were victorious once again.

The team would tally 16 shots and eight corners total.

IUP has now beaten Cal-U in women’s soccer five out of six times in the past meetings.

The Crimson Hawks now must once again quickly move on to perhaps their biggest game of the season so far.

The fellow undefeated Edinboro University Fighting Scots will travel to IUP this weekend, which is shaping up to be a great PSAC clash between two perfect record teams, right here on campus.

Edinboro has defeated Notre Dame (Ohio) and Mercyhurst University so far this season.

One team will get its first loss of the season on Saturday afternoon.

The IUP women’s soccer team, led by Heder, will look to continue its winning ways.

Game time is set for 1:30 p.m. at South Campus Field.

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