by Tyler Roaix
The Central Connecticut women’s soccer team continued Northeastern Conference play this weekend when they traveled to Fairfield to take on Sacred Heart University.
After dropping their first two games against conference opponents Fairleigh Dickinson and Mount St. Mary’s, the Blue Devils shut out Sacred Heart, 1-0, to earn their first conference victory of 2017.
Central improved their record to 5-7 overall and 1-2 in NEC play in the season. CCSU has now defeated Sacred Heart three times in a row.
Central controlled the tempo in the first half, taking six shots compared to just three from the Pioneers. Central also had three corner kick opportunities in the first half, while Sacred Heart failed to have any. In fact, Sacred Heart didn’t have a single corner kick until the 82nd minute of the game.
Despite having the chances to score, Central struggled to get the ball past Pioneer goalkeeper Nicole Sambuco.
But the Blue Devils were finally able to break through late in the first half off a goal from junior Danielle Pearse in the 43rd minute. The goal came off a cross from senior Brianna Scaldaferri. Pearse was waiting just inside the box, and was able to capitalize for the header.
The goal gives Pearse her third score on the season, while Scaldaferri earned her first assist.
“She’s had a lot of big goals for us this year,” head coach Mick D’Arcy said of Pearse. “She’s a powerful type of forward and not afraid to hit the ball. On this one, she just found herself in some space and took advantage. It was a great ball from Bri as well.”
The Pioneers came out strong in the second half, desperate to tie the game up. They tallied seven shots in the second half alone, more than double their first half total. But despite having the advantage in shot total, Sacred Heart had a lot of missed opportunities. Of their 10 total shots, they managed to land just one on goal.
Melanie DaSilva led the Sacred Heart attack with five of the team’s 10 shots. Pearse and freshman Erica Bardes each took two shots to lead the Blue Devils.
Junior goalkeeper Ashley Cavanaugh added yet another shutout to her belt, giving her five on the season. CCSU is now 5-6 with Cavanaugh in net.
“The life of a goalkeeper is a strange one,” D’Arcy said of the Blue Devils goalie. “She’s a leader back there. We have a very experienced back four all around. She’s had a lot of big saves this year, even in the games we have lost.”
Central’s 1-2 conference record puts them in sixth place in the NEC, very early in conference play. The Blue Devils have to earn a spot in the top four before the season ends to make postseason play.
“Always important to get first one,” D’Arcy said of the team’s first conference win. “We played an even game with FDU last week that could have gone either way. And then the disappointing loss to Mt. Saint Mary’s where we took 24 shots but just couldn’t score. So we had to come back home and deal with being 0-2. We couldn’t afford to lose this one.”
Central will host Saint Francis University and Robert Morris this upcoming weekend at the CCSU Soccer Field. The Blue Devils will first face the first-place Red Flash on Friday, Oct. 13th at 7 p.m.
“It’s going to be really great for us to get back home,” D’Arcy said. “The NEC schedule was not kind to us this year, playing our first three games away. But we are looking forward to the Saint Francis game. They beat us last year in the NEC Championship so we know it will be very competitive.”
The Blue Devils will then battle the last-place Colonials on Sunday, Oct. 15 at noon.