Oct. 22, 2007
Greetings Cards Fans!
Our final home weekend of the season was full of excitement both on and off the field. Friday night was Alumni Night in the Ville, as we hosted long time rival Marquette in what is always a heated battle. On Sunday we celebrated our final home regular season game by honoring our Seniors as we took on South Florida. It was sure to be an emotional weekend, but we did not let our emotions get the best of us.
Every year the game with Marquette is fiercely contested, as they play with an intensity that few teams are able to match. We knew that to be successful we had to start the game strong, and for the first twenty minutes we were playing some of the best possession soccer we had played all year. The only thing we were missing was that final pass or dangerous shot in the attacking third. Unfortunately, while we possessed and played well, they countered and took advantage of their opportunity. They were able to counter attack with numbers quick in transition, and their wide right midfielder sent a ball to the far post where it was headed back across to give them the lead at 1-0. We had dominated play up to that point and not found our reward, but they had their chance and took it.
Going into half down 1-0, we were determined to come out of the half the way we had started the game and this time get the goal we deserved from our play. Again we came out quickly, but once again they countered and scored within the first few minutes of the half. It was only the second time all year we had been down by two goals, and we knew that we were better than the scoreline was showing. We believed that if we kept fight and scrapping we would eventually get our goal. It took until the 70th minute, but we were finally able to make our breakthrough on a penalty kick from Monique Gjini. Gjini received a ball to her feet just inside the corner of the 18 yard box with a defender tight to her back. As she turned with her first touch the defender caught her legs and Gjini went down. The referee pointed to the penalty spot, and Monique composed herself enough to slot the ball past the goalkeeper and make it a 2-1 game.
With twenty minutes left in the game we had little doubt that we could get another and tie the match, but as the 90th minute approached it was looking less and less likely. With just 40 seconds left to go in the match, though, we earned a freekick at midfield. We threw everyone forward and our goalkeeper Joanna Haig came up to take the kick. Her low driven ball was flicked on into the box were Katie Own deflected it across and Kelsey Hunyadi battled a defender at the backpost to redirect it into the back of the net to tie the game with 11 seconds left and put the game into overtime.
Neither team was able to find the winner in overtime, but to battle back from two goals down in the second half to get the tie was a great result. We could have given up, but we just kept fighting and believed that we were going to score. It was a tie that felt like a win because we had displayed so much resolve and proved the quality of our character.
With the end of the Big East season approaching, Sunday's game against South Florida was sure to be a vital game in determining where we would be seeded come the Big East Tournament. It was also the Seniors' last regular season game at Cardinal Park. The five seniors - Jen Avila, Monique Gjini, Joanna Haig, Erica Robinson, and Laura Walker - have given this program so much and helped establish a tradition of excellence that is unprecedented, and we wanted to make sure that they left Cardinal Park on a winning note.
From the opening kickoff it was clear that the game was going to be a physical encounter. We hoped to avoid the physical confrontations by moving the ball quickly and combining to get around them, but we never seemed to find our rhythm and too often took an extra touch and found ourselves in a tackle. We did have the better of the play, but it took thirty minutes for us to find our breakthrough. Fittingly, the goal came from Senior Erica Robinson, who had broken free down the right side line and sent a ball to the far post that eluded the USF goalkeeper and found the top corner of the net to give us a 1-0 lead.
Minutes later we had a chance to double our advantage from the penalty spot. Monique Gjini sent a corner kick into the box toward Mallory Lampson, and as Mallory went up to head the ball a USF defender came through the back of her and she fell to the ground. The referee quickly pointed to the penalty spot, and Monique Gjini once again stepped up to take the kick. Unfortunately the USF goalkeeper guessed right on the kick, and dove across her goal to make the save and keep the lead at 1-0 going into the half.
The second half was much of the same as the first half, but it was not until the 70th minute that we found our second goal. Monique Gjini floated a ball in behind the USF backline to Lindsay Boling, who took it off her chest with her first touch and, noticing the goalkeeper off her line, popped the ball over the goalkeeper with her right foot from 20 yards out. It was a fantastic goal from Boling, and with the assist Gjini is now tied for the career assist record.
Our defensive line and goalkeeper held strong for the rest of the match and maintained the shutout, our tenth on the season. It was an important victory to solidify our position in 2nd place in the Big East National Division with two games remaining. We take on Villanova and Georgetown this coming weekend on the road, and if we can hold on to the #2 seed we will return home for the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament and give our Seniors one more game at Cardinal Park.
All the best!