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Judges split games but bounce back with dominating win

By Evan Goldstein

Section: Sports

September 21, 2012

It was a week full of ups and downs for the women’s soccer team as they lost their first match of the season 2-1 against Bowdoin. On Tuesday, however, they bounced back with a 1-0 victory against undefeated Gordon College.

The Judges dropped in the rankings but remain at No. 24 in the country. Before last Saturday’s home game against Bowdoin (3-0), the Judges were 5-0 and looked like the team to beat in the Northeast.

The first half featured physical play with both teams sharing equal possession of the ball. Although the Judges were able to play defense and keep some possession, it was Bowdoin that controlled scoring chances.

All in the 21st, 25th and 40th minutes, Bowdoin had cringe-worthy chances to score but was somehow kept away from the goal line, either by luck or by keeper Francine Kofinas ’13. By the 35th minute, Bowdoin had secured a better handle on possession and posed a greater threat than at any other point in the half. This was partly because the Judges were turning the ball over due to mishandled passes and unproductive decision making. Finally, by the 45th minute, nearly 30 seconds before half, Bowdoin striker Audrey Phillips created space from her defender to the right of the box and lifted a looping shot over Kofinas into the back of the net.

When asked what she told her team at half, Head Coach Denise Dallamora told The Hoot, “It’s a tough game. We have to hunker down and focus on possession and not get carried away by the emotions of the game.”

In response, the second half saw much better passing, possession and scoring chances by the Judges. In fact, midway through the second half it looked as though Bowdoin was on its heels. The match could have been equalized at two separate occasions when shots in the box were extremely close to the Bowdoin goal. They were stopped too soon, however, by Bowdoin keeper Bridget McCarthy.

McCarthy also saved a low strike by Sapir Elelati ’15 who found herself in space in the 67th minute, keeping another equalizer out of the net. In essence, McCarthy kept Bowdoin in the match when it could have been on the opposite end of many a goal.

Much to the surprise of the crowd, Bowdoin found a chance in the 85th minute when a low cross from Jennifer Hofstedder was deftly touched into the net a couple of feet from the goal-line by Mary Popolizio.

Normally, having occurred five minutes from full time this would have been a crippling blow, but the Judges rebounded within three minutes with a goal from Edelati who had missed nearly 20 minutes earlier. The goal came on a soaring corner kick by Alec Spivack that found the far post area and the head of Edelati, who forced the ball right into the top of the net. Nonetheless, the Judges could not muster any more goals in the last two minutes and the game ended with defeat.

Dellamora, however, managed to reflect on the loss as motivation. “We played well. I thought we put in a lot of effort, we just didn’t come out on top today,” said Dellamora. “We had no momentum. This game is definitely a point of motivation moving forward.”

Tuesday’s match started off with a bleak atmosphere as the match was moved up due to inclement weather forecasts. Somehow though, Dara Spital ’15 did not get the alert. In the 5th minute she found space in the midfield and dribbled towards the goal. As the centerback came to challenge her, she cut to the left and unleashed a left-footed firecracker that found the back of the net for Spital’s six score of the season.

Starting the match, Gordon was 6-0, but overall, the Judges dominated the match, outshooting Gordon 25-5. Yet it was only the play of Gordon keeper Kari Christensen that kept the Judges from dominating the scoreboard. Christensen recorded 11 saves during the match, some of them dangerously close to crossing the goal line. Sapir Edelati ’15 and Alec Spivack ’15, crucial players near goal, found themselves with chances only to be thwarted by Christensen.

The Judges were not without their own tales of strong goalkeeping, however, as Michelle Savuto ’15 made some key saves in the second half when Gordon started to pick up some momentum in the offensive zone. One save occurred in the 78th minute when Savuto dove on a loose ball that had been in the middle of a scrum inside the box after a corner.

The match ended in a 1-0 win for the Judges that proved to be a great rebound from Saturday’s loss. The yhope to carry this momentum on a three-match road trip, starting Friday against Bates, Wellesley and Rochester respectively. Rochester will mark the beginning of UAA conference play, the most important seven games of the season. The Judges begin their trip at 6 p.m. on Friday at Bates.

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