By Jimmy Cassidy
In their first home game of the 2016 season, Catholic University’s women’s soccer team scored a 90th minute goal to secure a 2-1 victory over Frostburg State on Sunday, September 4th. The late-game winner came from freshman midfielder Olivia Perez, who got a shot off after a pass came into the box from senior forward Jen Delasco. The scoreboard showed just 58 seconds left on the clock when the tie-breaking goal came, and the Cardinals held on for a hard-fought victory. The 2015 Landmark Conference champions, who finished last season with a 17-3 record, are now 2-0 in the early stages of the campaign.
The home side was slow to start in front of a supportive crowd at CUA Soccer Field, and Frostburg threatened to score early and often. The Bobcats looked to control possession in the midfield, hold up play, and then play aerial through balls over the top of the Catholic defense for chances on goal. This assignment was repeatedly shouted by the Frostburg head coach, and the plan was effective in the beginning. The visiting team had multiple great opportunities on goal, and outshot Catholic 11-3 in the first 45 minutes of the match.
Between the posts for the Cardinals in the first half was junior goalkeeper Ally Marcello, who had to make a career-high four saves in a busy 45 minutes. Marcello deflected a few Frostburg shots that looked like they would surely find the back of the net, and kept her side in the game. Junior midfielder Kiera Lyons hustled to make an impressive defensive save after Marcello came out to punch out a cross in the 13th minute.
“Frostburg is a very fast, physical, and competitive team that knows how to find a through ball to split a defense,” Marcello said. “I think that our team started off a little rocky, but quickly found our footing in the back to shut down the service for the through ball.”
The Cardinals’ offense could not generate the same chances as their competition in the first half, but the team was still in the game with a 0-0 tie. The team will again be lead by forward Lindsay Aleman, the senior nursing major who holds the team’s all-time record for goals in a single season (2015), with 22. Last year’s Landmark Conference Rookie of the Year, now sophomore Taylor Pisk, will likely be a big part of the chances created on the offense as well.
Catholic will look to fill the position left by goalkeeper and graduate Lexi Halperin, who also had a team record last year with 17 wins. The job has so far been split by Marcello and sophomore Christina Peyroux, who played the second half of the match against Frostburg.
The Cardinals came out in the second half with much more energy and focus, and it reflected in their play. After struggling to keep possession in the first 45 minutes, Catholic dominated control of the ball in the second half, and consistently threatened to score. The defense did indeed make the adjustments necessary to keep Frostburg’s attack at bay, and its efforts gave the offense more opportunities. The Cards outshot the Bobcats 15-2 in the half, and the first goal finally came in the 62nd minute.
A cross from junior forward Andrea Jablonskyj came from the left side of the field found the feet of freshman Elizabeth Johnson. The rookie forward possessed the ball and struck it well to beat the keeper to put Catholic up 1-0. It was a long time coming for the home side, and it was clear who the better team was. Frostburg would not go away however, as one of their two second half shots beat Peyroux to equalize in the 74th minute. Another through ball caught the keeper in an awkward position, and the Bobcats’ forward put it away cleanly.
Time went on, and the game looked like it would end up a frustrating draw for the hosts. Then with just over a minute to play on the clock, Pisk found space, pushed the ball up field, and found Delasco on the wing around the 18-yard box. Delasco crossed it into a pile of players, but Perez possessed it and slotted it home for the game-winner.
“It was definitely a moment I will never forget, I didn’t think it would come this fast honestly, especially the last minute of my first home game,” Perez said. “It took a while to settle it but it was a great feeling and having my teammates all run up to me showed how much it meant for us.”
Catholic held on to defeat Frostburg, 2-1. The squad is off to another strong start, and looks to continue their run of success this season, as mentioned by Marcello.
“Although we graduated a lot of talented senior players, we gained many talented freshman players as well that bring a great dynamic to the team. With constant hard work, and battling for all 90 minutes every game, I believe we could go far this season,” Marcello said.
Support the team in their next home game, Saturday, September 10th at 1 PM against Cabrini.