Sept. 23, 2008
Soccer is a game where the outcome is often decided by a moment. The difficult thing about it is that you never know when, where, or how that
moment will come...you just have to hope that when that moment comes you are prepared for it. This past weekend's games were a tale of two
different sides of these moments. In Friday's game against Cincinnati we seized those moments and played our way to a solid 3-0 win. On Sunday
those moments fell just beyond our grasp and we fell to Ohio State 2-1 in overtime.
Cincinnati is always a difficult game because the game brings out so much emotion from two teams that are separated by only 100 miles on
interstate 71. We knew that they thrived on their high pressure and would bring a tremendous amount of emotion and intensity to the match,
and in order to win we knew we would have to match that emotion while maintaining our composure enough to play good soccer. We managed to
break in behind their defense throughout the night, and it was just twenty minutes in when Giselle Mangal turned the corner on a Cincinnati
defender on the right sideline and found our breakthrough. She sent a cross toward the far post that was kept alive by Shannon Smyth and then
miscleared by a Cincinnati defender, eventually falling to Lindsay Boling who hit a marvelous volley to the top right hand corner.
We went into halftime with a 1-0 lead, but knew that we needed to capitalize on another moment to ensure the game would be in full
control. It took less than a minute for that moment to occur. Caitlin Rehder found herself on the end of a well played throughball from Ashley
Auld that left Rehder in behind the Cincinnati defense with only the goalkeeper to beat. She kept her cool and slotted the ball past the
goalkeeper low to the far post to double the lead. Then, just seven minutes later Rehder and Auld reversed roles to score our third goal of
the game. Rehder played a delicate little chip in behind the Cincinnati defense for Auld to run onto, and with the UC goalkeeper rushing out
toward her, Ashley popped the ball up over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. Auld's goal put us up 3-0 with more than thirty minutes
left in the game.
Our back four of Jess Mello, Meredith Tolley, Kelsey Hunyadi, and Caitlin Beck, along with goalkeeper Chloe Kiefer have played well all
season long despite being matched against some of the nation's best teams. Against UC they battled an intense pressing style to uphold the
shutout, our first of the season. Throughout the match we were on the right end of the important moments throughout the match, and that
enabled us to earn an important first win to start Big East play.
Following the match against Cincinnati we hit the road to play against Big Ten rival Ohio State. They had been having a tough year up to that
point, but we knew they were a dangerous team capable of breaking through at any point. For whatever reason, though, we came out lethargic
as a team and found ourselves under pressure in the opening half. Despite that pressure we prevented them from taking advantage of the
momentum and managed to hold out through the half to keep the score tied.
From the second half whistle we came out with a renewed conviction. We matched their intensity level and quickly found ourselves taking the
play to them. The increased energy we brought in the second half paid dividends in the 63rd minute when Shannon Smyth picked up a loose ball
35 yards away, ran at the Ohio State defense, and fired a shot from 25 yards out that beat the Ohio State goalkeeper low to the left corner.
With the one goal advantage and momentum in our hands we continued to push forward on the attack. We had two more great moments that could
have led to goals, but some great goalkeeping from Ohio State denied us a second goal. The first chance came when Kelsey Hunyadi beat an Ohio
State midfielder on the dribfrom 30 yards out that had everyone on thethe Ohio State goalkeeper managed to extend herself as high as possible
and somehow parried the ball up and over the crossbar. Just minutes later a chance fell to Ashley Auld, when Hunyadi once again ran at the
Buckeyes defense and this time slipped Auld in behind. The goalkeeper came running out to close the angle and made herself big enough to block
Ashley's shot from just inside the 18 yard box to keep the lead at just 1-0.
Having failed to take advantage of those moments we were made to pay late on in the match. With just 8 minutes remaining in regulation an
Ohio State player dribbled down the right side and cut back at the top of the 18 before sending a curling ball to the far post just in behind
our defense and out of the reach of Chloe Kiefer in goal that was headed home by an onrushing attacker to tie the game.
We regrouped and forced the game into overtime. And, once again we took the play to Ohio State, but in a moment found ourselves on the losing
end. With just over a minute to go in the first overtime they managed to chip a ball in behind our defense for a forward to run onto it. Chloe
Kiefer came out and made herself big, but the OSU forward managed to slot the ball beyond her and into the net.
The goal left us all in disbelief. We did not lose because we played poorly or because we are not a very good team. It was quite the
opposite...after getting through the first half we played well and we are a very good team. But, like I said, soccer is a game of moments and
Ohio State was able to capture those moments on the day and we were not. It was a tough lesson for us, and one that I am sure we will remember
for some time.
Those moments are now beyond us, though. There is nothing we can do to change the past, so we must live in this moment and get ourselves
prepared for another tough Big East weekend. We travel on Friday to Notre Dame, the #1 team in the country, before returning home to take on
DePaul this Sunday at 3pm...two more chances to seize the moments that will come our way.