In a game that featured nationally ranked teams, the Lions received its first loss of the season in a 3-2 overtime match against Wheaton College. The last time the Lions dropped a regular season contest at home was Oct. 14, 1998.
The loss gives the fourth-ranked Lions an 8-1-2 overall record, while Wheaton moves to 12-2 on the season. For a team in the hunt for a national championship, the Lions understand the type of play required to win it all.
“That is the competition we will be playing against when we make our run for the championship,” sophomore midfielder Nicole Papola said.
Saturday’s game began as most have this season – with an early goal by the Lions. Junior forward Christine Mullin finished a cross from sophomore forward Jamie Kunkel in the eighth minute for her eighth goal of the season.
The Thunder responded quickly, however, with a 20th-minute goal by junior forward Sara Richardson, who leads her team in scoring with 13 goals this year.
Junior defender Courtney Krol confidently stepped up and gave the Lions the lead going into halftime by converting a penalty kick.
Wheaton tied the game shortly after the half with a penalty kick of its own. Junior midfielder Bethany Barton placed the ball past freshman goalkeeper Jessica Clarke.
The teams had multiple opportunities to score as junior forward Dana DiBruno’s shot on goal was turned away by a diving save from junior goalkeeper Kristin Eggert of the Thunder. Soon after, freshman midfielder Maria Della Torre of Wheaton bounced a direct kick off the crossbar.
After a scoreless period of overtime, the deciding goal came just 1:13 into the second overtime. Freshman forward Taryne Lee guided a cross from Richardson into the net, giving the Thunder a 3-2 overtime victory.
Clarke made two saves in the game, while her 879:56 shutout streak came to an end.
“I think both teams played well on Saturday,” head coach Joe Russo said. “I think a draw would have been a fair result.”
Despite the disappointing outcome, the Lions remained focused after the game.
“The team mentality was that the game was over, not the season,” sophomore defender Cara O’Neill said. “Yes, we were upset over the loss, but we realize that one regular season game does not make or break our year.”
“This gives us a great opportunity to overcome adversity,” freshman forward Kelly Feeney said. “We will come back strong from this and are looking forward to the next game.”
Last Wednesday’s contest against William Paterson University was rained out and will be made up tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.