After achieving two solid victories against MIT and Lasell College, the Judges managed to hang on to their momentum as they rolled over Bridgewater State University with a 3-1 victory in their home opener on Tuesday. While gaining their third straight win, the Judges seemed to have found the right rhythm early in the season with 26 shots against Bridgewater State.
The Judges began to control the pace early on as they capitalized on the low physical pressure offered by Bridgewater State’s defense. “Bridgewater gave us a lot of space through the middle and up too, so we wanted to take advantage of that,” said midfielder Holly Szafran ’16. The Judges utilized ball transition between two wings to breakdown the enemy’s defense even further. The attacks started from the wings as the team took advantage of the players’ speed to seek chances. The Judges’ forwards, Cidney Moscovitch ’17, Haliana Burhans ’18 and Melissa Darling ’16 caused trouble for Bridgewater State, as the opponent had to assign two or even three defenders to slow them down. “Haliana, Mel and Cid all have great speed, so they all have been working so hard on getting to the end line to serve crosses. In practice, we really emphasize taking the ball to the end line to get crosses off, because we are really dangerous when we deliver decent balls into the box,” says Szafran ’16. The strategy paid off for the Judges, who gained 10 corner kicks over the course of the game and countless inbound set plays due to their incessant wing attacks. The third goal scored at 84 minutes by Sasha Sunday ’19 was a brilliant example of the execution since it all came from an amazing inbound throw directly into the box. “We are pretty solid on set plays, but can always be better, so we will be working on them a lot in the future,” comments Szafran ’16.
Szafran contributed greatly to the win Tuesday, scoring the second goal on a free kick to the back of the net, but her defense was also very strong as Szafran ’16 even managed to steal the ball twice in a row by two slide tackles in the second half. More importantly, her firm control over the ball after she obtained possession has offered the Judges’ stronger dominance in the mid-field. “This summer I really worked on control of the ball and the distribution of passes,” says Szafran on her performance. As a senior mid-fielder, Szafran is a large part of the Judges’ offense as she has recorded two goals, one assist and 13 shots after three games, including the game winning shot against MIT, “The win against MIT was a huge success, as they are always a hard team especially being our game opener every year.”
Of the team dynamics that has been flowing smoothly with 13 first-years added to the team this year, Szafran said, “Having 13 [first-years] is very exciting because they are all so different, have such different personalities, on and off the field. It’s awesome that we have such a variety of people on our team, because as soon as we step on the field we play as one, no matter our difference and play like a family.” With so many fresh new faces, the Judges look toward making the NCAA tournament again this season. “Our expectation of this season is to surpass last, and get as far into the NCAA’s as possible,” says Szafran, “We are for sure good enough to be the top seed and to beat the best teams in our conference.”
The Judges face off against UMass Boston this Saturday at 2 p.m. at home on Gordon Field. The UMass Boston Beacons have been struggling in the last two games as they head into the weekend with a record of 1-1-1.