No. 5 Lions pull past Blue Jays, roll over Pioneers

By Michael Battista
Staff Writer
The women’s soccer team increased its undefeated streak to five games last week. The Lions defeated Johns Hopkins University, 1-0, in their home opener on Sept. 13, in overtime before earning their first conference win against William Paterson University, 4-0, on Saturday, Sept. 16.
The recent history between the nationally No. 5 ranked Lions and No. 9 Blue Jays has been well documented. Coming into Wednesday’s game, senior forward Christine Levering knew that.
Thoresen dribbles past an opposing defender.
“They’re always a good fight,” Levering said. “We just know coming in that it’s going to be a hard, physical game… Every year it’s always a tough one.”
Levering herself has the most experience against the Blue Jays on the Lions roster. In 2013 during her freshman year, after both sides played to a draw during regulation, Levering scored the game winner 13 seconds into the second overtime period. After a 2-1 loss in 2014, the teams have drawn in their yearly match-ups in both 2015 and 2016.
The most recent meeting between the two ranked powerhouses nearly ended the same way. The first half of the game was evenly contested in the middle of the field with neither team getting many chances. On the wet turf of the Lions Stadium field, neither team could control the ball for long or with much confidence. In all, both teams combined for six shots in total in the first 45 minutes, with the Lions getting four.
In the 37th minute, senior forward Hannah Richman was able to bring the goalie out and get past her. With an open net, the Blue Jays backline pressured her into    shooting the ball wide keeping the score level at nil.
In the second half, the Lions offense immediately became the dominate force in the contest.
Just four minutes in, senior midfielder Jessica Goldman sent a corner right to senior midfielder Kayla Bertolino. The latter took a shot that seemed to be going to the net, but senior goalkeeper
Bess Kitzmiller was able to make an incredible jumping block to send the ball over the crossbar.
In the first 15 minutes of play, the Lions took 15 shots. Kitzmiller saved two of those shots. The Blue Jays defense was busy as three players had to step in front of shots and block them with their bodies. In all, the Lions put up 17 shots in the second half compared to their opponents’ three. Head coach Joe Russo said the difference between the two halves was tempo.
 “I told them at halftime to catch (their) breath,” Russo said. “The way we played the game was so frenetic and it was 900 miles an hour… We wore them down by keeping possession and going wide.”
Even with the increased offense, the Johns Hopkins squad kept the College back, putting pressure on any possible breakaway chances and forcing both teams into overtime.
The Lions didn’t allow overtime to go on long, as sophomore defender Ally DeRiggi chipped a shot passed the defense to set up a breakaway goal by Levering, giving her team the 1-0 victory.
Russo said that his team, even after beating such a high ranked opponent, has to look ahead to the next game.
 “We’ve already dismissed it,” Russo said. “We have to go to Patterson on Saturday and get three points in the conference. There can’t be any bit of a hangover from what has taken place tonight to what is going to happen on Saturday. First conference game, tough place to play and they’re always well coached so we need to go there and get  three points.”
 The Lions trip into Patterson was met with little resistance from the Pioneers in their first New Jersey Athletic Conference game of the season.
 The team outshot William Patterson by a total of 16 to 0, with the Lions backline keeping the Pioneers at bay through the full 90 minutes.
 The College shot six times in the first 16 minutes of play, with the last one coming in the 16th minute and reaching the back of the net. Bertolino received a pass from Levering on the right wing and bashed the ball next to the left post, earning her first goal this season. Less than two minutes later, senior midfielder Elizabeth Thoresen took a long shot from 20 yards out, hit the underside of the crossbar and increased the Lions lead, 2-0.
 The Lions first half rout was put on halt for about ten minutes and the Pioneers defense blocked and saved multiple shots, but confusion in the box gave the Lions another chance at the net. Sophomore midfielder Despina Lianidis found herself with the ball at the top of the box, she slickly passed the ball to an open Richman on the left wing who sunk her third goal this season.
In the 84th minute, one young Lion had her moment. Freshman midfielder/forward Caroline Rubin saw the Pioneers goalie bobble the ball inside her own box. Acting quickly, she possessed the ball and shot into the open net to give her team the final score of the match, 4-0.
The Lions returned to the field Sept. 19, when they traveled to Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham. On Saturday, Sept. 23, the Lions are at the College’s Soccer Complex for a conference match against New Jersey City University starting at 1 p.m.