by Brian O’Neill
The Central Connecticut women’s soccer team continued their five game home stand this past weekend with a pair of wins over both New Jersey Institute of Technology and Lehigh Univeristy, improving their record to 3-3-1.
The first game of the weekend was on Friday night; the Blue Devils edged out the NJIT Highlanders (2-7) by a score of 2-0.
The Blue Devils struck first with a goal in the 28th minute with Cailynn Harding scoring on a header in the box off a corner kick by Kelly Halligan.
The first half was won by Central, offensively and defensively. In the first 45 minutes, Central took 15 shots with six on net, and didn’t allow New Jersey a single shot. The second half yielded the same result, with the Blue Devils controlling possession. They tallied 14 shots in the second half; six on goal and one into the back of the net.
That goal came in the 57th minute when a cross from Julie Lavoie through the box found Morgan Santoro in front of an open net for an easy score.
The second half also brought goalie changes for both teams as Central’s Nikki Turley substituted for Rebecca Lewis, and New Jersey’sSamantha Bersett replaced Karen David.
“Rebecca’s been training very well,” said head coach Mick D’Arcy when asked about the change. “We’ve got four goalkeepers and the competition at practice is very good every day. So we thought it was time for Becca to be in net. She hasn’t played yet this year, she’s a new transfer from Ithaca, and we thought today was her day to get some minutes on the field.”
When asked on what could be improved upon after the game, D’Arcy summed it up simply: “Finishing.”
He added: “We had a lot of chances during the course of the game. And to win the game two-nil, it’s nice to get a shutout, it’s nice to score some goals, but I think we could’ve been more ruthless in front of the goal. It’s something that we’re working on, and we know we have to get better at it.”
The Blue Devils returned to the pitch Sunday against the Lehigh Mountain Cats (2-2-1) for the win.
Lehigh scored for the first time in the 19th minute when Grace Correll took a shot that deflected off the back of Central’s Danica Foglio.
It didn’t take Central long to answer.
Not even a minute later, Tori Sousa chipped the ball over Lehigh’s keeper to tie the game — 1-1, with the assist going to Halligan. The go-ahead goal came off Halligan’s strike in the 42nd minute from long range, beating the keeper to the top left.
At the end of the first half, both Central and Lehigh’s shots were even at four with possession for both teams relatively even.
In the second half however, Central played a more defensive game, which gave Lehigh the time to attack. The Mountain Cats racked up 10 shots in the half, putting eight on goal. Even with the attack, the Blue Devils held their 2-1 lead thanks to good defense and goalie play throughout.
“[We] scored a couple of good goals for one,” D’Arcy said after the game. “I thought our defending was good in the second half… I thought we were pretty dangerous countering them a couple times; we just weren’t able to get the final execution on it.”
He added: “I thought we sat back in a little bit more in the second half and tried to hit them on the counter attack; and, defensively, I thought we absorbed their pressure really well.”
Central’s extended home stand concludes next weekend with two games in three days. They’ll face the Maine Black Bears on Friday at 7 p.m. and the Fairfield Stags on Sunday at 3 p.m.