By Kevin Saxe
SPRINGFIELD — On a chilly Wednesday night at Brock Affleck field, a common occurrence was hearing public address announcer Nick Perenick saying, “Springfield College goal scored by Kaleigh Dale.”
He said it not once, not twice, but three times as the freshmen produced her third hat trick of her career, increasing her overall goal total to 13 in 14 games. Dale’s performance would be enough for the Pride to defeat the visiting Smith College Pioneers 3-2 in a NEWMAC battle.
Not only was the win important as it ended the Pride’s two-game losing streak, but also in terms of where they stand in the NEWMAC. Head coach John Gibson was happy with the way his team responded after the recent skid.
“They did everything that was asked of them. We talked about things in training after losing two games in a row, so whatever we asked them to do they did. They kept the ball well, we created chances, which we didn’t create against Amherst, but Amherst are obviously a very tough opponent.”
Not only was Gibson happy with the play of his team but he talked about the importance of beating Smith in terms of the conference standings.
“Losing to Babson was a disappointment and Smith just beat Babson, so this was a tough game. We needed to win this to pick up those three points and we’re clear in second place now and MIT come in Saturday, so we are still in theory playing for the [NEWMAC] title.”
For Springfield, after a flurry of offense to start the first half, Dale broke through just over 16 minutes into the first half. After a Pride player was taken down in the box Dale unleashed a strike on a free kick from about 30 yards out. The shot, which hit the hands of Pioneers goalie Naomi Falkenber, barely got past the goal line on her save attempt, but it was a goal nonetheless. After Smith responded with just over ten minutes left on a goal from Ettiene Oliver, Dale once again found the back of the net with 2:12 left in the first.
After getting a nice ball from Sara Swetland, Dale ripped a shot that barely got past Falkenberg into the net for a 2-1 Pride lead. Despite the success in the game Dale was quick to credit her teammates for her success.
“My goals really come from the rest of my team. They’re moving the ball around. They create space for me, without the ball movement I would not be able to get off the shots that I do.”
What Dale has done this year has been a special site to watch for Pride fans. Having scored 13 goals in 14 games this season, Dale is already tied for fifth in goals in a single season for the Pride. While Dale may be incredibly humble, Gibson knows he is watching an incredible talent in Dale play at this level.
“She’s a very talented athlete who reads the game really well. She is a pleasure to work with. She’s the first one to offer to do things and she takes on board things we say to her.”
The talent level was once again on display with the clock just under seven and a half minutes. Mackenzie Luiz sent a ball through that Dale, after a step to her left, picked the bottom corner and buried her third of the game past Falkenberg and the ultimate game winner.
For the Pioneers, Falkenberg came up big as the Pride outshot them 25-6 including a margin of 12-3 in shots on goal. Falkenberg would end the match with nine saves while her counterpart Izzy Inglese made one save to pick up the win.
The game carried extra meaning, as a moment of silence was held for the passing of Lindsay Bugbee Crosby. Crosby, a 2008 graduate of Springfield College, was both a two-sport athlete who played lacrosse and soccer and was also the daughter of current head coach of men’s lacrosse, Keith Bugbee.
Springfield, who raised their record to 10-3-1 and 6-1 in the NEWMAC, next face off against MIT who are 12-2-2 overall and hold first place in the conference at 7-0 on Saturday at 3 pm at Brock Affleck Field. Saturday will also be senior day for the Pride’s six seniors.
Featured photo courtesy of Springfield College Athletics