With the scored tied 0-0 in the second half of the College’s New Jersey Athletic Conference opener against William Paterson University, freshman midfielder/defender Victoria Martin took it upon herself to motivate one of her teammates.
Looking to classmate Erin Healy, Martin said, “We need to score. We can’t keep playing a 0-0 game. We are keeping them in the game way too long.”
On the ensuing penalty corner, the ball took a Lions’ bounce off the goalkeeper’s pads and found its way to Healy’s stick. Healy then dished the ball off to Martin, who took the pass and sent it into the back of the cage.
Martin’s goal would end up making the difference in the Sept. 16 contest that finished with a final score of 1-0.
“While the ball was traveling towards the cage, I felt like it was going in slow motion,” Martin said. “The second it went in, I could not believe it. It felt great to score and put us ahead in the game.”
The win over the Pioneers kicked off a solid weekend for the Lions, who also took down Alvernia University on Sept. 18.
Both wins were crucial after the Lions dropped their first game of the season last Tuesday, Sept. 13, against Eastern University.
“It’s always important to bounce right back after a loss with a key victory in order to get back in groove and build back the confidence,” said senior midfielder/forward Leigh Mitchell, who continues to rest due to injury.
The importance for the Lions to stop any sense of a losing streak and to start off on the right foot in conference play could be felt as they squared up against the Pioneers.
“(The loss) opened our eyes and we realized that we don’t work hard for nothing, and we had to show it out on the field,” Martin said. “We knew we had to go against William Paterson fired up and get the win.”
Though the Lions struggled to get on the board against the Pioneers, they did quite the job of rebounding against Alvernia by jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first half.
It took the Lions a mere 1:50 to get on the board against the Crusaders as junior defender Camille Passucci started and ended a penalty corner that put the Lions up 1-0. Passucci guided the ball into play and shortly afterward capitalized on a return pass from freshman midfielder Erin Waller.
Senior midfielder/defender Alex Okuniewicz then got into the mix by scoring a goal and getting the assist on a goal scored by Healy.
The Lions suffered a scare as the Crusaders closed the lead down to 3-2, but the defense was able to clamp down and hold onto the lead.
“We spent a lot of time on defense at practice the past week,” senior goalkeeper Shannon Syciarz said. “We really worked on being disciplined in our defensive circle and keeping the communication up, and it really showed.”
Another thing showing has been the Lions’ freshmen class, who had a large impact on offense — combining for two goals and two assists — as well as on defense in the Lions’ last two contests.
“The freshmen have been making really big contributions on both attack and defense,” Syciarz said. “It’s easy to forget that this is their first year playing at the collegiate level since they have been pulling through big for us. They’re a very hard working class that is eager to learn and improve, so I expect to see them continuing their success throughout the season.”