The contest was almost as finished as it could get. Fans from both teams were holding their breaths, awaiting a kick that could decide a major implication.
Springfield College women’s soccer midfielder Julia Cormier was set to take the penalty kick that would send her team to the NEWMAC semifinals. No one was in the way: just Cormier and WPI goalie Gabi Hoops.
Within the blink of an eye, Cormier darts back to midfield to meet the rest of her teammates; the Springfield faithful jumps for joy, and the 1-1 tie and 4-2 advantage on penalty kicks does indeed send the Pride to the semifinals.
The initial feeling before the kick for Cormier didn’t consist of nerves, the junior was determined for a reason.
“I just wanted to win it for my team and head to MIT to keep it going,” said Cormier. “I had to go up there, went up with confidence and just put it away.”
Securing the victory does set a semifinal matchup with host and no. 1 seed MIT on Saturday. The Pride entered the NEWMAC tournament as the no.4 seed, WPI at the no. 5 slot. WPI was seeking their first playoff win as they have never won in the postseason since being in the NEWMAC in 1995.
Having won the last three NEWMAC titles, Springfield is now one step closer to keeping the trophy on Alden Street.
“We’re just going to keep going and take it game by game,” said Cormier.
The maroon and white got on the board first. Just over 24 minutes into the game, Nicole Fowler did her classic flip-throw-in and Jess Miller connected for the header. It was not only a great goal for Springfield but the flip-throw-in has been a big part of the offense as of late. Miller’s goal marked the third time in two games Fowler’s flip-throw-ins had resulted in a goal.
Springfield remained to be aggressive after getting on the board. Krissy Cicalis used her quickness to get by defenders in the first half. The Pride outshot WPI 9-4 in the first half, but the Engineers had a strategy of their own.
WPI’s advantage was their physicality and having an overall bigger team that could disrupt the Pride’s attack.
“They were physical and they committed to the way they wanted to play,” said head coach John Gibson. “It was a battle and I think we battled well with them.”
WPI’s physicality eventually paid off 15 minutes into the second half. Midfielder Emily Doherty was taken down inside the box, awarding her a penalty kick. Doherty nailed it to the left side of the net and out of the reach of Springfield goalie Ciara Boucher which nodded the contest at 1-1.
The penalty was a tough way for the Pride to give up their lead, but they eventually got back into their groove.
“I think it (Springfield) took them a little while to settle down again but once we did, I thought we played the ball well and we made chances,” said Gibson.
Neither team could find the opportunity they exactly wanted in the overtime, but the opportunities were there. Over four minutes into the first half of overtime, Fowler ripped a shot from the right side that went just over the net. In the second part of overtime, WPI was aggressive and put pressure on the Springfield defense.
Before Cormier’s game-winning kick, Elizabeth Monsen, Aly Morell, and Nicole Fowler each put one in the net to help the Pride earn the advantage in penalty kicks.
But, it may have been Boucher who helped her team be put in the best situation. The sophomore goalie made a diving save to the right off Doherty’s kick and then a dive to the left from the foot of Jaime Espinola.
Gibson couldn’t have emphasized enough how important the last week has been.
“Saturday we had to win to have a chance of hosting a home game, this was the home game and what a battle it was.”