Women’s Soccer ties University of New England to keep playoff hopes alive
BY BRANDON WILFORE // Oct. 8, 2016 //
With only six games left in the season, Curry is trying to gain momentum to propel them into the postseason. A good way to do that is tie first-place University of New England, 1-1.
On paper, the Colonels seemed defeated before the game even started. The Nor’easters had not allowed a goal in four conference games and only six goals in their ten games on the season. They are also a juggernaut offensively, coming into this game with 24 goals overall.
Curry saw those stats before this game, but they could care less. The hard-working Colonels were going to fight for all 90 minutes, whether it was team USA or the University of New England.
Even after a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Biddeford, Maine, the Nor’easters were out-hustling Curry early and often. They seemed to be faster and, more importantly, hungrier for a win.
With 17:30 remaining in the first half, UNE got a great look at goal but the Colonels’ goalie, Morgan Stott (don’t forget her name) made a save to keep it locked at zero. This initial shot was the first of many over the next three minutes, as UNE peppered Stott with shots and she made save after save.
But something had to give, and it did. Taylor Usko grabbed a goal with 15 minutes left in the first half to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
At halftime if you looked at a stat sheet, you would think Curry was down 5-0. The Nor’easters outshot Curry 14-1 in the first half. The Colonels’ lone shot wasn’t even on goal… UNE finished the half with three corner kicks to Curry’s zero.
But the story of the opening half was the tremendous play of Stott. She had nine saves and kept the Colonels’ hopes alive going into the second half.
After the break, Curry came out firing, noticeably urgent with their passes and possession of the ball. They beat Nor’easters to balls and made great runs to the corner for deep crosses. That finally paid off when the Colonels earned their first corner kick of the night, anxious to score their first goal.
Off the corner kick, the crowd cheered as senior Briana Fitzsimmons netted her second goal of the year to tie the game at 1.
Over the next 20 minutes, Curry would keep the pressure on UNE, with great strikes from distance, corner kicks and possessing the ball in their offensive half.
No chance looked better than when one of the Colonels’ midfielders stopped and rifled a shot from about 35 yards out and nailed the crossbar. As the sound echoed throughout the air, the crowd gasped as the Colonels came inches away from taking the lead.
The Nor’easters threatened with three minutes left, being awarded two consecutive corner kicks, but nothing came of them before the time expired to send the game to overtime.
Just like the first half, UNE seemed to dominate the initial period. They had four shots and Curry had zero. The Nor’easters had the ball a lot in the ten-minute period but, no goal.
When the second overtime period started, the smell of victory was pungent in both teams, as the intensity rose with every second that bled off the clock. Parents in the stands quickly turned into super fans and coaches. Physicality picked up and bodies started to hit the turf more and more often. Both teams were leaving it all out there.
But it wasn’t enough, and the final horn sounded. Usually, a tie is a bittersweet feeling but not for the Colonels. They were cheering after the game because they knew how big of a game this was.
“Even though we tied, it felt like a win,” said defensive captain Abby Ford who played great defense all night for Curry over the middle of the field.
Ford added that, “It brought our team confidence up because now we know we can compete with anyone.” A great attitude for the Colonels as they enter the most important stretch of the year if they want to play in the postseason.
Un(Stott)able: Morgan Stott had a game-high 14 saves and played all 110 minutes not only making incredible saves, but also being the vocal leader of her team.
Big 2: With her assist Friday night, Kelly Parker now has 14 points on the year. Tied for fourth-best in the conference. Curry’s Kaitlyn Lima leads the conference in points with 18.
Getting healthy: A big part of making a postseason run will be health. Friday night, junior Cassie Grasso returned after missing games with a foot injury. She has eight points this year.