By Luke Whitehouse
It was a rainy night on Brock-Affleck field as Springfield College women’s soccer hosted Smith College.
As the game kicked off, it only began to intensify, and the turf became really slick.
“You always have to be ready for the elements,” head coach Kristin Cannon said. “But we were kind of ready for this today.”
Ready they were, as the Pride amounted nine first half shots on goal and controlled the offensive possession for the majority of the half – leading them to an eventual 1-0 victory over the Pioneers.
“I think our team did a great job of moving the ball fast,” Cannon said. “We just worked on speed of play.”
While the Pride had plenty of shots on goal in that first half, their defense held the Pioneers to zero shots on goal. Their defense was lockdown, and they swatted away every chance Smith had to score.
“Everyone [was] organized and they did a great job,” Cannon said. “That makes it easier for our backs.”
The Pride entered halftime still tied despite the shot disparity.
That would all change very soon as Springfields Vissi Rizos made a 1-0 game just under 6 minutes into the half.
Jenn Walker shot the ball, it bounced off the Smith goalkeeper’s hands, ricocheted off the goal post and landed right in front of Rizos.
“I knew [the ball] was going to go somewhere,” Rizos said. “ So I just followed it.”
Rizos found herself in the right place at the right time and put the ball in the back of the net, giving the Pride exactly what they needed coming out of the half against a tough Smith team.
The defensive prowess of the Pride continued into the second half as they only allowed a miniscule three shots on goal and blanked the Pioneers on the scoreboard. The ball rarely crossed the midway line, and the Pride once again controlled the ball for the majority of the second half.
“That’s something we call ‘The Juice,’” Rizos said. “We’re a team that likes to press and put our opponents under pressure…that just comes from passion and hard work.”
The Pride also had a staggering 35 shots, but only one goal to show for it. Smith goalkeeper Noemi Howland had a great night and made many diving saves to keep the Pioneers alive, but Cannon knows they could’ve put more balls in the net.
“We just got to be a little more precise,” said Cannon.
Aside from the win (one which improved the Pride’s record to 6-2-1), Springfield also celebrated a special night. The women’s soccer team, in conjunction with “ATHLETE ALLY,” hosted “Play with pride” night to honor the LGBTQ+ community. Rainbow flags filled the bleachers as both players and fans showed their support.
The Pride now look to improve to 4-0 in the NEWMAC, and remain the only undefeated team in the conference when they play host to MIT, who is also 4-0 in NEWMAC play, Saturday at 1 p.m.
Photo Courtesy of Springfield Athletics