Kissell, O'Brien Spark Leopards Past Army
EASTON, Pa. -- It was an exciting night to say the least on Mike Bourger '44 Field at Oaks Stadium on Wednesday as the Lafayette women's soccer team defeated Army West Point for its first Patriot League victory of the season by a 1-0 score.
Freshman Krista Kissell scored her second goal in just her third game this season, slotting the equalizer past Army goalkeeper Sydney Cassalia in the 46th minute. The win is the first for the Maroon and White over Army since 2006 and pushes the Leopards to 1-1-1 in conference action and 3-4-2 overall.
"It was a pretty wide open game, but I think one goal was always going to separate the two teams. We were just fortunate that one goal was for us," head coach Mick Statham said. "We changed the system through the early parts of the second half and that settled us down."
That system change was defensive-minded in nature as freshman defender Camryn Monfort replaced junior forward Alex Stanford about 10 minutes after the goal to put an extra defender behind the ball for Statham's side. While those defenders played well in front of her, aiding in the first clean sheet of the 2017 campaign, it was senior goalkeeper Kelly O'Brien who, single-handedly at times, kept the Leopards in front throughout the second half.
"After we got the lead, I just wanted to help the team maintain it," O'Brien added. "I knew what I had to do to make sure the team stayed calm. It was important that we settled in and were ready for anything Army would throw at us."
O'Brien was certainly prepared, making seven saves in her 45:00 of action, including three highlight-reel stops in the 57th, 62nd and 78th minutes. The second two were arguably her best of the season, saving one into the crossbar and recovering for another stop on a rebound try, and then stopping a point-blank shot with a sprawling dive to her right to secure the lead late.
The lone goal for the Maroon and White was well-taken by Kissell, but originated down the left flank from junior Gabrielle Martone. Martone sent a cross into the box, where a pair of Army defenders failed to clear it. Instead, it deflected off one of them and fell right to the foot of the rookie. Kissell's instincts took over from there, showing keen finishing ability by sending a curling low shot into the left corner for the marker.
Army held the edge in the offensive statistical categories, leading 13-7 in shots and 7-5 in corners, but also committed six fouls compared to just one by the Maroon and White.
Lafayette will try to keep its momentum rolling into the weekend, hosting Boston U. for a Sunday matinee affair with first touch set for 1 p.m.