LANCASTER, Pa. – Allison Klei's first-career goal was a memorable one for Franklin & Marshall's women's soccer program as the 55th-minute score allowed the Diplomats to hold on for a 1-0 upset of No. 15 Stevens on Saturday afternoon at Tylus Field.
The victory marked F&M's first win against a ranked opponent in the Heather Kemp era and evened the Diplomats' record to 1-1, while the Ducks drop to 0-1-1 with the loss.
Stevens, who tied No. 3 Messiah an evening ago, opened up the game with an early threat as Zisi Komar let loose a shot that just missed the post. Senior forward Reanna Leoni responded for F&M and tallied a pair of shots, one of which was blocked, in the following minutes. Leoni continued to pressure the Ducks and almost netted a goal by settling a bouncing ball and ripping a shot from 30-yards out only to be saved by Stevens' keeper Lindsey Mahnken. The game evened out for the rest of the half, with both teams trading possession and good defensive plays to draw even into halftime.
Stevens came out firing once again to begin the second half, but freshman goalkeeper Gabby Panayotakis nulled the threat with a big save.
Finally, in the 55th minute, the Diplomats broke through. After Leoni won a loose ball in the midfield and beat a Stevens' defender, she found Klei up top, who took on several defenders and freed herself up for a left-footed strike that skipped into the corner to put F&M ahead. The defense was unrelenting, spoiling Stevens' five corner kick chances in the second half and winning tackles in the back.
The Ducks led the way in shots at 15-8 and corners at 7-1, but Panayotakis tallied six important saves on the way to her first shutout and win of her career. Leoni tallied four shots, including one on net, while Ali Cunniffe and Klei both registered shots on net.
F&M returns to action on Wednesday when the Diplomats visit Shenandoah for a 7:00 p.m. matchup.