By Michael Battista
The ninth-ranked women’s soccer team hit the road again over last two weeks, where the Lions took on three teams before they returned to the College for the first of a four-game homestand to finish out the season.
On Wednesday, Oct. 5, the team dominated Gettysburg College, 5-1, and didn’t give up its first goal until more than 600 minutes of play. Afterward, the College swept three New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) teams. It beat Ramapo College, 4-0, on Saturday, Oct. 8, Stockton University, 3-2, on Wednesday, Oct. 12, and Montclair University, 3-0, on Saturday, Oct. 15.
The team’s trip to Gettysburg was a one-sided battle from the start. In the eighth minute, junior midfielder Jessica Goldman was able to knock back a goal from the deep left side to put the team up early. The first half was dominated by the Lions, with senior forward Christine Levering scoring off a free kick just one minute after Goldman.
The freshmen were also able to show their worth against Gettysburg. Midfielder Haley Bodden scored her third goal of the season during the 21st minute off an assist from junior midfielder Elizabeth Thoreson in the top of the box. Two young cubs also had their first College goals: Defenders Taylor Nolan and Callen Vandermay scored in the waning minutes of the first half, with senior midfielder Sarah Marion assisting on Nolan’s goal, which kept the Lions up, 5-0.
The Lions held control most of the game, though Gettysburg’s only shot on goal turned out to be enough to end the College’s streak of not conceding. Reflecting on her opponent’s goal in the 82nd minute, senior goalkeeper Jessica Weeder said the Gettysburg Bullets never gave up.
“(Gettysburg) never once stopped fighting to get into our half and get a shot off,” Weeder said. “We had a momentary lapse in organization. They saw the opportunity to shoot, and they took it.”
Weeder said that just because the Lions won, doesn’t mean the conceded goal hurts any less.
“Even if we had 10 goals, it would still matter,” Weeder said. “We hold ourselves to a very high standard, and we strive to get a shutout every game. Once we start playing better teams, the games will become even more challenging, and giving up just one goal could mean losing a game.”
The next two road contests against NJAC teams Ramapo and Stockton were opposite experiences for the Lions. The team was able to outmaneuver the struggling Ramapo Roadrunners on Saturday and outshot them 23 to 7.
Levering put the team on top early when she scored in the 18th minute of the game before she netted another one early in the second half, giving her 10 goals this season.
Her second goal came off an assist from Thoreson — the pair has been extremely dominant this season. Levering said this teamwork has been a driving force for her.
“In the last two games, I think our team has just been working really well together getting up the field and creating a lot of chances,” Levering said.
Early in the second half, this teamwork paid off again as Goldman netted her sixth goal this season.
In the 85th minute, freshman forward Julianna Franco’s first College goal gave the team the win, 4-0.
The next game turned out to be a much different story when the Lions traveled to Stockton. Instead of scoring early and dominating the first half, the College wasn’t able to convert any of its seven shots into points during the first 45 minutes. However, the team was able to compensate as its defense left the Ospreys little chance to take any shots against Weeder.
Levering and Thoreson came out swinging in the second half and scored in the 51st and 58th minutes, respectively, giving their team the lead, 2-0. Levering’s goal came off an assist from freshman defender Jen McGrogan, while Levering herself earned an assist off Thoreson’s goal.
However, a string of poor decisions and slip ups led to team to the brink, as Ospreys senior midfielder Adrianna Boucher netted a penalty kick in the 73rd before coming back down the field to slam in a pass in the 76th minute, which tied the game at 2.
The team’s last overtime game was a tie against Johns Hopkins University earlier this year, and the late goal by Stockton made the situation eerily familiar. This time, only one minute was needed to decide the game, as Levering charged downfield and kicked in the winning goal off an assist from junior midfielder Kayla Bertolino to give her team the win, 3-2.
After the four-game road trip, the Lions returned home on Saturday to take on Montclair in a battle for the top of the NJAC standings. Both teams had registered at least seven shutouts during the season and the defensive talent was evident from the start.
The Lions were only able to get five shots off during the first half, but kept the Red Hawks back, leaving them without any chances, as well.
However, in the 15th minute, the offensive pairing of Thoreson and Levering was able to get past Montclair’s defense. Levering ripped a shot from far back, but hit the crossbar, leaving Thoreson to knock in the rebound to put her team up, 1-0.
Senior defender Brianna Petro said that while playing such a close game against Montclair, the team couldn’t take any chances.
“(We) just played everything safe and stay(ed) composed in the back,” Petro said. “It was critical for us to get the second goal because that kinda had our momentum going.”
The Lions did take a few chances too many, however, as the game filled with fouls on both sides and two yellow cards for the home team. These stoppages of play gave Montclair time to get into the Lions zone, before the defense was able to pressure them out.
In the second half, the Lions played more recognizable soccer. The team took nine shots against the Red Hawks and scored twice off impressive plays.
In the 51st minute, Levering scored her 13th goal of the season with what only can be described as a roundhouse kick around the defender that slipped between the goalie and the post.
Thoreson lifted the team past the dreaded two-goal lead in the 60th minute, after another shot by Levering was blocked by the goalie, which allowed her to sink it in for the final goal giver the Lions the win, 3-0.
The Lions now look toward Wednesday, Oct. 19, when they will face fifth-ranked Stevens Institute of Technology at home in their last non-NJAC game. Petro said the team needs to play as they have been, and not alter the formula unnecessarily.
“I think we need to focus on playing our game,” Petro said. “Can’t really predict how their going to play, or we can look at their formation and try to match up defensively in that sense. But just focusing on us and what we need to get done is the only thing we can really do.”