Women’s Soccer Goes to the Wire

Mike LeClair

The Colgate women’s soccer season has gotten off to a dramatic start, with two of the Raiders’ three matches going into overtime.

The Raiders opened their season on Sunday, August 24 at Van Doren Field against Albany, falling 2-1 in overtime. Colgate opened the scoring in the 54th minute with a rebound goal by junior midfielder/forward Jessica Bitsack. However, Colgate could not hang on to its advantage, as Albany’s Rebecca Lee scored the equalizer seven minutes later off a failed clearance by Colgate’s first-year goalkeeper, Rebecca Michlin. The rest of regulation and the majority of overtime was a tight affair, with neither team looking like they would eke out a victory. However, with 31 seconds left in the match, Lee forced a turnover in the Colgate penalty area and passed the ball to Ashley Tirabassi, who fired home the powerful winning goal outside the penalty box, much to the dismay of Colgate players and fans.

“[The game] was hugely disappointing,” Colgate Head Coach Kathy Brawn said. “We did a lot of really good things, but to give up a goal that late was a big let-down.”

Five days later, the Raiders again trotted out onto Van Doren Field, hoping to remove the heart-breaking loss to Albany from their minds, as they took on Fairfield in the opening match of the Puma Raider Invitational. Colgate again got itself on the board first, with senior captain Josie Johnson opening the scoring in the 29th minute. Colgate held that lead until halftime. Fairfield finally got on the board in the 68th minute, with Alyssa Decker scoring the tying goal off assists from Nicole Cavallaro and Adrienne Boyer. Soon after, Boyer took matters into her own hands, scoring an unassisted goal to give Fairfield the decisive 2-1 margin. Fairfield goalkeeper Kelly Boudreau was a critical component of the winning effort, earning seven saves on the night, while Colgate’s first-year keeper Rebecca Michlin also impressed, collecting four saves.

In the final game of the Puma Raider Invitational last Sunday, the Raiders took on Marist, winning 1-0 in overtime. The two sides were very equal through the first half, with Marist registering five shots to Colgate’s four. The second half, however, was very uncomfortable for the visitors from the MAAC, with Colgate taking 13 shots and forcing Marist goalkeeper Jamie Balsarini into action eight times, but she was equal to the task each of these times. Thanks in large part to Balsarini’s efforts, the two sides remained scoreless heading into the overtime period. Colgate, having already had a busy week on the field, apparently did not want to be out there much longer, as the Raiders scored the game-winner in the first minute of overtime. Junior midfielder Jillian Arnault led the Colgate attack into the Marist penalty area, beating a defender before slipping a pass to first-year midfielder Danielle Wessler, who put the ball past the seemingly invincible Balsarini to give Colgate a well-deserved victory. The goal was Wessler’s first of her collegiate career, and could not have come at a much better time for the Raiders.

“This team is young and inexperienced and will go through a lot of growing pains,” Brawn said. “[During the Puma Raider Invitational] we showed huge improvement, and I’m very pleased with the progress we’ve made. We’ve done great things that we can certainly build on, and we have a team with a lot of talent and a lot depth.”

Colgate will look to carry the momentum from its win over Marist to the Husky/Nike Invitational, hosted by the University of Washington, this weekend. Colgate opens with a 7 p.m. match against the hosts on Friday followed by a difficult 11 a.m. match against the nationally-ranked University of Portland, who are fresh off of a win over the former top-ranked team in the country, the University of Southern California.