Women's Soccer Upends American on Senior Day
EASTON, Pa. - The Lafayette women's soccer team needed a win on Sunday afternoon to keep its Patriot League Tournament hopes alive and came through with a 3-1 victory over American on Senior Day at Mike Bourger '44 Field at Oaks Stadium.
The victory moves the Maroon and White to 2-5-1 in Patriot League play, good enough for seven points, two behind current sixth-place team Holy Cross. With a win at Loyola next weekend and a Crusader loss at Lehigh, the Leopards would move into the final playoff spot.
"The two obvious things are the critical three points and the win on Senior Day, a nice memory for the seniors and the team," head coach Mick Statham said. "There's ebbs and flows in all games, so you never have every minute your own way. We had to be ready to handle anything that came our way, and we were better in those terms today."
Lafayette got scoring from its top-three sources on Sunday as freshman Krista Kissell opened it up just 29 seconds into the game. Junior Alex Stanford found classmate Katie Brannigan, the Leopards' other two goal-scorers, down the right flank with open space for a cross. Brannigan sent it back toward Stanford in the middle of the box, but it instead found its way through to a waiting Kissell on the opposite side for the easy finish and a 1-0 lead.
American would respond, though, later in the opening half as a strike from Asia Horne equalized at one. Horne settled from about 25 yards out to the right of goal and sent a laser into the left side-netting to beat Leopards' freshman goalkeeper Maggie Pohl and tie it up.
Right out of the break in the second, Lafayette swiped back momentum again. Working down the right side, Stanford weaved her way through a pair of American defenders and sent a strong shot on net that had too much heat for Eagles' goalkeeper Ryleigh Brown to handle, going through her hands and into the back of the net for the 2-1 advantage.
About 10 minutes later, Leopards' senior goalkeeper Kelly O'Brien had to get in on the action to preserve the lead with a diving save to her right. Then, Brannigan and classmate Lauren Johnson linked up for the insurance tally. Brannigan flicked a header off a Johnson free kick inside the left post and past Brown to seal the 3-1 victory in the 79th minute.
"Scoring early like we did helped build our momentum, but we hit a lull there in the first half," Kissell added. "We came out in the second half knowing we had to win this game, scored two more and settled into our style of play."
The win is the third of the season for O'Brien, who made three saves in her 45:00 of action. American led in shots, 11-8, and corners, 7-6, but the visitors fall to 2-14 on the year overall and 1-8 in Patriot League action.
Lafayette's five-member senior class was honored in a pre-game ceremony in their final home game at Oaks Stadium. The women's soccer program thanks Rebekka Arnthorsdottir, Paige Thompson, Olivia Heitz, Gabrielle Lassinger and O'Brien for their contributions over the past four years and wishes them the best of luck in their future endeavors.
The all-important final regular-season game for Lafayette will take place on Saturday as the Leopards travel to Baltimore, Md. for a matchup with Loyola. First touch in both Lafayette's contest and the Lehigh-Holy Cross game (taking place in Bethlehem, Pa.) is set for 1 p.m.