By: Jon Santer
The Springfield College Women’s Soccer team fought hard, but at the end of their Saturday night matchup with the Owls of Westfield State University, the Pride found themselves on the losing end of a 2-1 contest. With the loss, Springfield evens out to 1-1 on the season and 28-4-1 all-time against the Owls.
I think we did a great job tonight,” said Westfield head coach Todd Ditmar. “It was a great comeback after a tough loss yesterday. We always play hard against Springfield and its nice that we were able to come out on top.”
Westfield State controlled the ball and the time of possession early on in the game, but could not figure out how to sneak one past the Pride’s junior goalkeeper Lucy Gillett.
With 22:36 remaining in the first half, the Owls got their lucky break.
As the ball rolled slowly towards Gillett near the top of the box, Springfield defender Lauren Muser and Gillett both attempted to secure possession, when Muser one-touched the ball and it rolled past the hands of Gillett.
Aware of the situation, freshman forward Hannah Zannini of Westfield State swooped in behind Gillett and tapped the ball into the open net to give the Owls the 1-0 advantage.
Just ten minutes later, Westfield State was on the attack again. A well-played through ball was placed perfectly in between two Springfield defenders, and landed on the feet of junior midfielder Sarah Sypek. The 5’3 product out of Hampshire Regional High School in Westhampton, Mass. took three dribbles and blasted a shot past the outstretched hands of Gillett to give the Owls a 2-0 edge.
“The first half I was very disappointed,” commented Springfield head coach John Gibson. “We were slow to the ball all over the field. We played better in the last five minutes of the first half and were able to carry the momentum into the second half. It was frustrating.”
The second half proved to be a complete turn-a-round for the Pride, as the team came out of the break with energy and fire, attempting to make a tremendous comeback.
Seventeen minutes into the second half, Springfield forward Nicole Fowler chased down a ball about to roll out of bounds and fired a shot at the Westfield State net. Although senior goaltender Jess Habif made the save, it was what happened in the following minute that sparked the Pride’s comeback.
Senior forward Nina Vital found herself charging the net, with the ball on her foot, and a clear shot at tying up the game at two goals apiece. As soon as the local product out of Ludlow, Mass. was about to pull the trigger, a combination of an Owl defender and Habif collided with the skillful forward, inside the box, resulting in a penalty kick.
With 27:48 remaining in the contest, Vital and the Pride brought the two-goal deficit down to one, entering the final minutes with the scoreboard reading 2-1 in Westfield States favor.
Its always nice to score goals but when we are down two its hard to think that we have to score two goals. Being just one goal down a comeback was definitely more realistic and the team started to play a lot harder after that. We wanted this one but unfortunately we couldn’t get it done,” said Vital.
Chance after chance down the stretch for the Pride were all solved by the senior Habif, as the Pride could not find the back of the net.
Springfield will look to get back to their winning ways this Tuesday when they host cross-town rival Western New England University at 7:00 p.m.