By Jimmy Cassidy
The Catholic University women’s soccer team kicked off their 2015 campaign in convincing fashion, Tuesday, September 1st, with a 7-0 victory over Hood College. From the very beginning of the match, the control of the game was dominated by Catholic. It was a pleasant yet understandable result for the team, who was voted #1 in the Landmark Conference by coaches for the 2015 fall season. The preseason favorites return 22 players from the 2014 Conference Championship team, including 9 starters. The victory against Hood was not the team’s first game action, however, as they recently returned home from a 10 day trip in Spain to play a few international friendlies in Barcelona and Madrid.
The tempo of the game was established early by the Cardinals, and possession quickly became lopsided in CUA’s favor. The ball was on Catholic’s offensive side for a majority of the first half, and the chances at goal were plentiful. Any potential counter attacks from the Hood Blazers’ forwards were quickly stifled by the formidable back line of Catholic’s defense. Everything was going the Cards’ way, but it did not show on the scoreboard immediately. The tie was soon broken with 29 minutes to go in the first half on a goal from junior midfielder Alyssa Fiore. Fiore cut through multiple defenders before finishing nicely with her left foot to give the Cards a 1-0 advantage. After the first goal, the Catholic onslaught began, and the team put many shots on goal. Senior Kelly Henderson had two of her shots hit the top of the crossbar and out of play. Junior forward Lindsay Aleman gathered a cross from Kiera Lyon with 9 minutes left in the half, and finished well for her first goal of the match. Just two minutes later, sophomore midfielder Andrea Jablonskyj found herself some open space after a few dribbles and fired a strike from way outside the 18-yard box for an impressive goal. All signs pointed toward a Catholic opening victory with a 3-0 lead at the half.
Jablonskyj noted “After practicing together for quite some time we were all excited to put it together and play another team. We had a lot of good movement and creativity off the ball which allowed us to create chances to score.” Catholic made their offseason work evident with impressive first touches and quick passing. Hood could not keep up on the defensive end, and almost all of their goal kicks were controlled by Catholic to regain possession.
No inspirational halftime speech could have spurred the Blazers to come back from the 3-0 deficit, and it took less than two minutes for the Cards to find the back of the net once again. This time it was sophomore striker Nia Gomez who found space in front of the goal and dribbled around the keeper to score. Gomez decided one was not enough when she stole the ball from a Hood defender and buried another shot for a goal with 24 minutes left in the game. It was then Aleman, the 2014 team leader in goals, who got back into the goal scoring late in the game. The striker scored two goals in a span of four minutes, including a crafty finish for the hat trick. The 7-0 lead was plenty for the Cardinals, who spent the last 10 minutes of the game relaxing their offensive attack and focusing on ball movement. Senior goalkeeper Lexi Halperin got the clean sheet victory with 61 minutes in front of goal, and senior Amy-Lynn Friel played the other 29 minutes between the posts. Hood managed just one shot on goal in the game.
Sophomore defender Riley Hawblitzel played a part in the Catholic defense that shut down any attack from Hood’s offense. She said “The defense really kept our shape and communicated a lot to ensure that Hood did not get any chances on goal.”
The 7-0 victory is something to be excited about for a season opener. Anyone who watched Tuesday would say the team looks like it could repeat as Landmark Conference champions once again. The Cards kick off conference play September 26th against Landmark foe Elizabethtown in Pennsylvania.