by Evan Sobol
The Central Connecticut State University Women’s soccer team fell 2-1 to conference opponent Saint Francis on Friday in the Northeast Conference Semifinals. The Blue Devils pushed for a comeback late but fell short. They finished the season 10-8 with a 6-2 record in the NEC. All six of their conference wins were consecutive.
The game was scoreless until the second half. The Red Flash got on the board in minute 56. Midfielder Mariana Jaleca scored from inside the box into the left side of the net, her second goal of the season. Alyssa McGhee provided the assist. Saint Francis scored again just ten minutes later in minute 66 when Gabi Morales scored off a corner kick for her seventh goal of the season. These are the first goals Central’s Ashley Cavanaugh gave up since Oct. 1. She recorded six straight shutouts in this span.
Central’s lone goal came in minute 84 when freshman forward Jenna Rae Covello found a through pass in the box. It was her fifth goal of the season. Laura Casanovas Diaz provided the assist, her third of the season.
The Blue Devils’ 10-8 record is their best since 2014. During their six-game win streak they outscored opponents 13-0. Numerous players earned awards as well.
Cavanaugh was awarded the NEC Goalkeeper of the Year award. In 17 games this season, she recorded 62 saves and allowed less than a goal per game with a 0.72 goal allowed average. Her record this season was 9-7 with nine total shutouts. Head Coach Mick D’Arcy recollected on her play this season. “She did not record a lot of saves, but one or two big saves in each game, especially during the win streak. She’s also a good leader to have.”
Senior defender Jennifer Cafferky was awarded NEC Defensive Player of the Year for the fourth time. The Boras, Sweden native has played in 67 games for the Blue Devils and has scored 6 goals. “Winning the award four years in a row is unprecedented. She is a fantastic player overall and I enjoyed to coach her,” said D’Arcy.
Cavanaugh and Cafferky were named to the NEC First Team All-Conference along with fellow Blue Devil Kelly Halligan. In 17 games the senior scored two goals and recorded four assists.
Even though the offseason is approaching, D’Arcy pointed out it is an important time for the players. “It’s important for players to look at the offseason not as a break but an opportunity to get better.”
The women will have a couple games in the spring to help bolster their skills before the regular season starts up again.