Three different goal scorers for the Springfield College women’s soccer team aided in the Pride’s 3-1 victory over Worcester Polytechnic Institute on Tuesday evening at the Irv Schmid Sports Complex.
With the win, Springfield improved their record to 12-4-3 and advanced in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Tournament to play Wheaton College on Saturday at MIT.
Springfield opened the scoring just 44 seconds into the match when midfielder Ashley Carresi corralled a throw-in from sophomore Nicole Fowler and fired a shot into the top left corner of the net, giving the Pride a 1-0 lead.
Although this was only the second goal of the senior’s final season wearing maroon and white, it proved to be the spark that the Pride needed moving forward.
“I think we played well in the first half tonight,” said Carresi. “The second half was a little messy, but we pulled it back together. I definitely think that we were the better team tonight. We wanted to come out strong and we wanted to score early, and luckily we were able to do that.”
Just 13 minutes later, WPI freshman midfielder Erin Bracken crossed the ball from the right sideline to the center of the box, where Springfield defender Brianna Messier inadvertently deflected the ball back towards her own goal. With goalkeeper Lucy Gillett caught out of position, the ball rolled into the net, evening the score at one goal apiece.
With 22:11 left in the first half, senior forward Nina Vital was dragged down by a WPI defender inside the box, resulting in a penalty kick. The local product out of Ludlow, Mass. was able to beat the Engineers’ senior goalkeeper Maddie Willer, burying a shot into the bottom left corner of the net.
“The first half was just about as good as it gets. It was magnificent,” exclaimed Springfield head coach John Gibson. “Coming off the tough game we had with them before, this was just about as good as it could have turned out. We made a lot of chances and got a lot of movement out of our front players, which is something we have been working on in practice, so that was nice to see.”
Springfield added to their lead just 12 minutes later when sophomore forward Nicole Fowler dribbled the ball around a pair of WPI defenders to the center of the field and fired a well-placed shot into the right side of the net, just out of the reach of a diving Willer.
“We played probably one of the best first halfs of the season tonight. We knew what we had to do and were pretty pumped up for tonight,” said Fowler. “We have been having trouble scoring for a while, especially me, but I think I played pretty well overall.”
Moving forward into the semifinals against Wheaton, Gibson, Fowler and the rest of the Pride will look to continue their success in NEWMAC play. In 2012, Springfield won the NEWMAC Championship after defeating the Lyons in a penalty kick shootout.