Stanford Wins It in Overtime Opener
EASTON, Pa. – Junior Alex Stanford sent a missile through the hands of the NJIT goalkeeper and into the right side of the goal in the 95th minute to give the Lafayette women’s soccer team its first win of the 2017 season on Wednesday evening at Mike Bourger ’44 Field at Oaks Stadium, a 2-1 triumph over NJIT.
Coming off a road defeat at Siena to open the year, the Leopards bounced back strong, using Stanford’s goal and the first career marker from freshman Rebecca Schreiner to secure the victory. Senior goalkeeper Kelly O’Brien earned the win, making one key save in her 49:05 of action.
“We couldn’t really get going in the first half, but it was good to see us come out and make an adjustment, show some character, and play more like what we’re capable of,” head coach Mick Statham said. “I thought we went for it right away in overtime. Our players played to win and they deserve the credit for that. The overtime was a really good spell for us.”
The opening half was littered with chances from either side as a lob flick-on chance from freshman Sophie Saldivar forced a diving save from NJIT’s Amelia Sapirman in the seventh minute to kick off the action. The Highlanders responded just over 10 minutes later as, following a cut inside on a Lafayette defender, Christine Conaghy sent a hard shot on net, forcing the first career save for freshman net-minder Maggie Pohl.
NJIT opened the scoring late in the first half in the 42nd minute off a corner opportunity. After the initial ball was punched off the line by Pohl, it found the feet of Yasmeen Malik, who didn’t miss her chance, sending a floater into the far right side to put the visitors on top into the break.
Coming out of the intermission, it was all Lafayette with constant pressure in the opposing defensive third. Senior co-captain Rebekka Arnthorsdottir sent a sizzler outside the far right post in the 49th minute and freshman Clare Mengel put a strong shot just under the crossbar, forcing a tip save in the 56th.
The break-through finally came in the 62nd minute as Saldivar, junior Katie Brannigan and Schreiner teamed up for the equalizer. Working down the left side, Saldivar found Brannigan, who toed a through ball to a cutting Schreiner in close. The freshman slotted a composed finish across the goal and into the far side to tie the game at 1-1 with just over a half hour to play.
Just over 10 minutes later, NJIT responded with their best chance at a winning tally. Briana Hackos found space down the middle of the field and fired a shot toward an open space on the right side of the Lafayette goal. O’Brien layed out for a full-length diving save that trickled over the endline and the Lafayette defense took care of the ensuing corner to keep the visitors off the board.
It didn’t take long in overtime for Stanford to step up, scoring the winner just 4:05 into the extra period. Cutting inside at the top left edge of the 18-yard box, she hit a strong ball toward the far side that was too much for Sapirman to handle as it went through her gloves and into the side netting for the game-winner.
“We were going for the win and didn’t want to play for a tie,” Stanford added. “I don’t really remember what happened, but I think I just saw the opportunity and was luckily able to take advantage.”
Following a feeling-out period in the first half, it was all Leopards in the second-half in overtime, leading 8-2 in shots over that stretch compared to a slim 7-6 advantage in the first 45 minutes. The Highlanders won the corner battle, 7-5, and made eight saves compared to five from the home side.
Lafayette has over a week off until its next match, traveling to Delaware State on Friday, Sept. 1 for a 7 p.m. matchup with the Hornets.