By Vin Gallo
Springfield College women’s soccer senior forward Mikaela Coady dribbled the ball along the left side of Brock-Affleck Field. The Pride’s offense was still attempting to find its confidence in the 63rd minute (27:10 left) of the first half in its non-conference game against the Endicott Gulls on Saturday.
As soon as Coady slowed her advancement towards Endicott’s goal, Gulls senior Paige Pratt jumped on the opportunity for a takeaway and wrenched the ball from between Coady’s feet. Coady lost her balance, and Pratt took off towards the midfield with another Endicott possession in tow.
“[We] need to give Endicott a lot of credit,” said Springfield soccer head coach John Gibson. “In the first 20 minutes they were on fire. We couldn’t keep up with them, and didn’t adjust [in the first half].”
The Pride’s offense would go on to take 13 shots in the first 45 minutes of the game, but would manage only three shots on goal in the half. Despite a lethargic start, Springfield would find a way to score three unanswered goals, and walk away with a 3-1 victory to stretch their win streak to four.
The Gulls had a 1-0 lead transitioning into the second stanza of the contest after Sharlotte Pernice blew by Pride defender Aly Morell for an unassisted goal on a breakaway seven minutes into the game. Springfield goalkeeper Ciara Boucher registered a key save on a penalty kick in the contest’s 15th minute to keep the Pride’s deficit at one and deny Endicott of any additional momentum.
“If that [penalty kick shot] had gone in, that probably would have been the end of [the game],” Gibson said.
If Springfield was to tie the game, they would need a quick score in the opening minutes of the second. The Gulls had managed only six shots in the first 45 minutes and were not making consistent advances into Springfield’s goalkeeper box. This necessity would come in the form of a Kim Quiles goal via an assist from Mary Silva one minute into the half (46th minute, 44:11). Silva dished the ball to a cutting Quiles who kicked the tying goal over the head of a lunging Kristin Hartlage to knot the contest at one.
“In the second half we were definitely moving the ball very well and the intensity was definitely high and that’s what we needed,” Quiles said. “With our offense, we move off of each other, make runs off the ball. When we do that we’re able to make things happen.”
Gibson has been pleased with Quiles’s efforts coming off of her elbow injury sustained against Westfield State and was happy with her efforts to lead the team to three unanswered goals.
“She’s is in really good form, she’s a genuine threat. She has explosive speed, and strikes the ball really hard. She’s tiny so we don’t expect her to win any balls in the air, but today the tying goal was a header, so that was unexpected,” he said with a smile.
The Pride defense followed the offensive efforts by limiting an already cold Gulls scoring unit to zero shots on goal through 15 minutes of the second half, and cut off four separate passes intended for Endicott strikers cutting to the Springfield box.
The Pride would continue to dominate in the second, and would pull ahead at the 63 minute mark, when Quiles received a pass in the air from Monique Marcelino and knocked a shot off the left post to put Springfield in the lead for good. It was her second goal of the game and third of the season. Sarah Swetland would tack on an insurance goal on a long range pass from Morell with 19 minutes left in the contest.
“We finished really well,” said Gibson. “Our forward runs were very aggressive.”
The Pride will travel to Amherst to face off against the Purple and White on Wednesday.