By Hayden Choate
SPRINGFIELD —Despite a combined 35 shots between the Springfield College women’s soccer team and opponent Western New England on Wednesday night, just one crossed the goal line. The score could have been very different, however the Pride walked away from the Brock-Affleck Field with a 1-0 win in its home opener.
Sophomore Kaleigh Dale’s shot off a feed on a restart by fellow sophomore Heather Jennato in the 25th minute held as the game’s only goal.
In last year’s meeting between the two teams, the Pride routed the Golden Bears 7-1, in which Dale had a hat trick. Springfield took 25 shots for its seven goals goals in the 2018 matchup while this year they took 30 shots for just one goal.
“We anticipated having possession and we wanted to create chances,” said Pride head coach John Gibson. “I think we could have been a little more composed on some of them,” said Gibson, who is in his 20th season at the helm.
Dale’s goal is her second of the season, the other one being the game-winner from a 2-1 double-overtime victory over Roger Williams in the team’s season opener. Dale, who was named 2018 NEWMAC Rookie of the Year last season has wasted no time in helping her team win again this season.
“She covers the whole field, it’s not like she’s a star striker and you put somebody on her and follows her or and attacking midfielder player that never leaves the attacking half, she’s defending one minute and attacking the next.” Gibson said.
Although, Western New England only had five shots on net, the visitors had notable chances to tie the game but it was Springfield’s defense that kept them off the board.
“Well when we’re under pressure we need to defend well, obviously” said Gibson who praised the play of his defenders, specifically Junior Christy Russo — who is playing her first season at center back instead of forward in addition to missing all of last season due to injury. “She’s very quick and very strong…she’s getting better all the time.”
Coming off a ten-save shutout against Keene St. on Aug 30. Western New England goalkeeper Alex Lemekha stopped 11 shots. The ball was on the Bears’ defensive half for most of the game but thanks to solid goalkeeping and shot-blocking from the defense, WNE allowed the offense several chances to even the score.
“We did a lot of good things, but when you make chances you’ve got to put them away,” Gibson said.
Springfield (2-0) continues its four-game home-stand when they play host to Endicott (2-0) this Saturday at 3 P.M.
Featured photo courtesy Jack Margaros