Women’s Soccer Struggles in Trio of Games

Mike Leclair

A busy and crucial stretch of the Patriot League season produced a disappointing three points for Colgate women’s soccer. The three-game stretch kicked off with matches at home against Army and Holy Cross and closed with a visit to Lewisburg, PA, for a match with the Bucknell Bison.

The Raiders welcomed conference leading Army to Van Doren Field on Friday, October 10. You could be forgiven for thinking that the affair would not be a close one, with Army sporting an 8-4 record coming in and with Colgate owning a 4-7-1 record. But it took a lucky bounce for Army to get itself on the scoreboard. In the 19th minute, Army’s first-year midfielder Ashleigh Sheets pounded a shot to the upper-corner of the goal. Colgate’s first-year goalkeeper Rebecca Michlin, on top of her game this night, made a great save to deny the initial shot and pushed the shot onto the crossbar. The ball then bounced perfectly to Army’s first-year striker and leading scorer Dymon Washington, who made no mistake in finishing her golden chance.

The rest of the match was fairly even, with Army barely outshooting Colgate, 15-13. Michlin, to her credit, stood on her head in goal for the Raiders, making a career-high 11 saves on the evening. Colgate had a great chance to tie the match with 40 seconds left in regulation, but junior Jillian Arnault’s shot went inches wide of the post, condemning Colgate to an agonizing defeat.

“It was a difficult loss,” Colgate Head Coach Kathy Brawn said. “In the Patriot League, you really want to win your home matches, because it’s tough to win on the road. We played some of our best soccer in this game, but we just weren’t able to score, and that happens in soccer sometimes.”

Two days later, Colgate again trotted out onto Van Doren Field, this time for a Sunday afternoon showdown with the Holy Cross Crusaders. A late goal by Colgate junior defender Christine Walker ended the Raiders 249-minute scoreless streak, and it was enough to give Colgate a 1-0 victory.

Regarding the scoring drought, Brawn said, “We’ve been creating opportunities. It’s just a matter of someone rising to the occasion and finishing a chance. You just want to make sure you don’t over think it, [because] then it begins to take away chances.”

The Raiders dominated the match, outshooting Holy Cross 17-9 and earning 11 corner kicks to the Crusader’s three. One of those 11 corners gave Colgate all the offense they needed, as Walker’s goal was the product of junior midfielder Jessica Bitsack’s corner kick. Michlin had a pretty easy day in goal, a testament to the quality of Colgate’s defense on the afternoon, needing only one save to earn her third shutout of the season. The win upped Colgate’s conference record to 2-1-0, and knocked Holy Cross down to 1-2-0.

Colgate then left the friendly confines of Van Doren Field to take on Bucknell, 1-2-0 coming in, at Holmes Stadium in Lewisburg, PA. Colgate’s defense held firm in the early stages of the match, and the offense dominated the Bison also. Unfortunately, Bucknell got itself on the board in the 27th minute, with sophomore Christa Matlack putting the Bison ahead. Colgate outshot Bucknell 8-4 in the first half, but it was unable to convert on any of their opportunities, and the teams went into the halftime interval with Bucknell leading 1-0.

Bucknell stepped up its attack in the second half, completely reversing the play from the opening half. Over the course of the second half, Bucknell outshot Colgate 13-7, and its continued offensive dominance resulted in a 56th minute goal, though decidedly a fluke from junior Chelsea McGorry. A cross came in from the sideline and took a wicked hop on the pitch, bouncing into the goal past Michlin, giving Bucknell a two-goal advantage. Being down two, Colgate had to press for a goal to keep the game within reach. In the 66th minute, ten minutes after the prior Bucknell goal, first-year midfielder Danielle Wessler finished a loose ball on the goal line, her fourth goal of the year, after fellow first-year midfielder Monica Jensen’s shot was stopped on the line to pull the Raiders within one. It is often said in soccer that a team is most vulnerable immediately after scoring a goal, and that maxim proved its worth in this match. Just 18 seconds after Wessler’s goal, Bucknell’s leading scorer and senior striker Jennifer Dervarics headed home a cross from McGorry for her tenth goal of the year to put the match out of reach. Michlin did well in goal for Colgate, despite giving up three goals, making six saves in the match including four in the second half.

Colgate is currently fifth in the Patriot League, one spot away from qualification for the conference tournament at 2-2-0, good for six points. Colgate has a great opportunity to move up in the standings this weekend, as they head to Lafayette tonight and Lehigh on Sunday. Lafayette is currently winless in the conference, while Lehigh has only one win.

“[The games] this weekend are huge,” Brawn said. “There’s no mystery about what we need to do. It’s been a tough season, but we still hold our own destiny.” Lafayette is currently winless in the conference, while Lehigh has only one win. “Two wins will get us very close [to making the Patriot League tournament],” Brawn said, “and in the playoffs, anything can happen.”