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18th ranked women’s soccer posts two more shutouts

By Evan Goldstein

Section: Sports

September 14, 2012

Utilizing disciplined defense and clutch goal-scoring by Dara Spital ’15, the 18th ranked women’s soccer team improved to 5-0 on the season with a pair of 2-0 victories against 23rd ranked Springfield College on Saturday and Bridgewater State on Tuesday.

When asked about her team’s performance, Head Coach Dellamora said that the Judges “didn’t play that well; it wasn’t a good game.” Like any other coach, she thought that there was definite room for improvement. Specifically, Dellamora added that her team “needs to have better composure under pressure,” especially for the Judges’ next match against Bridgewater State.

Although Springfield was kept to a clean sheet, the Judges were put under pressure throughout most of the game. After the first goal by Spital in the 31st minute, Springfield was able to keep the majority of possession, limiting the Judges’ offensive pressure. Strong defense and aggressive midfield play, however, kept Springfield from breaking through.

From the beginning of the match to Spital’s first goal, both teams had scoring chances and fair passing play. Springfield almost took control of the game early on when a good strike by Vicki DiNatale hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced dangerously near the goal line. While it was unclear if the ball had crossed, there was no call and keeper Francine Kofinas ’13 quickly fell on the ball to end the danger.

The first goal was somewhat underwhelming compared to the plays that both teams had been executing in the first 30 minutes. Melissa Darling ’16 had a scoring chance when her shot was saved but then mishandled by the Springfield keeper Erin Greenstein. A scrum then ensued a few feet away from the goal line as every player close to the ball started feverishly hacking, both toward and away from the goal. Chelsea Van Baush ’16 managed to lightly push the ball out of the crowd towards Spital, who placed it into the back of the net to end the chaos. Afterward, the Judges placed an enormous amount of pressure on Springfield for two minutes.

At halftime, the Judges had the upper hand in a game that wasn’t supposed to be in their favor. Springfield had been unable to develop an offensive rhythm and the Judges had all the momentum.

The second half mirrored a drastic contrast to the first. Springfield kept trying to push the play on the the Judges’ side of the pitch but were thwarted many times by the defensive prowess of the Judges midfield and defensive line. Springfield, however, would always win the ball back soon after, as they were determined to keep pressure on the Judges. The entire second half followed this script except for a key save by Michelle Savuto ’15 and the breakout goal by Spital. Springfield had nothing to show for their sustained offensive pressure except for the discontent of Coach Dellamora.

Spital’s two goals brought her season total up to five, making her the leading scorer for the Judges. Before the match, she had been tied with teammate Holly Szafran ’16 with three goals apiece. Szafran was not silent during Saturday’s match as she had a disallowed goal with a brilliant header off of a volley in the box.

Coach Dellamora’s decision to go with a two-keeper system this season, having Kofinas and Savuto each play a half, has worked out masterfully thus far. The Judges have not allowed a goal in four games against difficult opposition, much of it due to satisfactory goalkeeping.

“We’ve had the ability to score goals and play good defense,” Dellamora said. When asked what she thought the advantage the Judges have had against other teams this season, Dellamora said, “Intangibles—we have heart. This is one of the best teams I’ve coached.”

After entering the new week ranked 18th in the country, the Judges looked to continue their strong play when they traveled to Bridgewater State on Tuesday.

The Judges stifled Bridgewater’s offensive pressure en route to their fifth straight shutout and an early plus 14 goal differential.

Szafran, said that the match was “extremely physical the whole game” as evidenced by the 22 combined fouls that were committed throughout the match. There were no cards awarded in the match but “there should have been,” she added.

Physical play has been fast becoming a trend in the young season for the Judges, garnering positive results. There were barely any shots on goal but the two keeper tandem of Kofinas and Savuto made the necessary saves to keep the Judges in the match, even if there were only two shots on goal by Bridgewater State. This, however, has been how the Judges have been winning: playing the necessary soccer to achieve victory.

The first goal of the match came late in the second minute off the foot of Mary Shimko ’14, who played a through ball into the middle of the box by Sapir Edalati ’15 and struck a low shot into the right corner.

The match as a whole was in the Judges’ favor, and not just in terms of goals scored but also in terms of possession and set pieces. The Judges attempted 20 sets compared to Bridgewater State’s 13. Take away the set pieces from fouls and that leaves 10 corner kicks to Brandeis compared to one for Bridgewater. It was obvious that Brandeis had the advantage in the overall flow of the match, regardless of the play’s physicality.

Even with the 10 corner kicks, the two goals were scored off of efficient passing in the box. The first was due to the through ball, and the second resulted from the cross by Alyssa Fenenbock ’15 to Corinne Bortniker ’15, who in turn, one-timed the cross just inside the left post. The second goal, scored in the 43rd minute just before halftime, solidified a well-played half.

The Judges entered the second half with a two goal lead; however, Bridgewater State failed to pose an offensive threat. Instead of the relentless pressure that Springfield had brought, Bridgewater State and Brandeis kept up the rough play, resulting in zero scores for both teams.

At 5-0, the Judges could not have hoped for a better start to the season and have already put their name on the map as contenders.

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