By David F. Pendrys (Eyewitness account verified against Box Score)
SPRINGFIELD, MA- The Springfield Pride Women’s Soccer team picked up a narrow victory on a penalty kick Tuesday night over the Clark Cougars. With just a few minutes left and the score tied at 2, Brook Hattinger drove towards the goal and was stopped by Clark player in a way the referee did not find to be appropriate. This set Hattinger one on one against Clark goalie Gabby Paolini. Hattinger contemplated her shot and knocked it into the air diagonally past the keeper for the 3-2 lead. This was the culmination of Springfield’s nearly relentless attack to break the tie throughout most of the half. Despite numerous attempts near the goal and a handful of corner kicks the Pride had been unable to break the deadlock until that point.
The scoring began early back in the first half as less than five minutes in when SC’s Krissy Cicalis received the ball and from deep lofted it into the corner of the left hand side of the net with the assist going to Jessica Miller.
Miller would score herself about 18 minutes in after Dakota Kelly fed her the ball and she slipped between a pair defenders before kicking it on the ground past Paolini.
Four minutes passed before Clark’s Kara Fischer ended up in the center of the defensive zone with the ball and let loose a shot at SC’s Ciara Boucher. The ball hit Boucher’s hands and flew up into the net to put the Cougars within 1. An assist went to Alex Pariseau as well.
That was it for scoring in the first half, but early in the second frame, Alex Easton of the Cougars ended up in great position in front of the net and rocketed it by Boucher assisted by Fischer.
While this tied the game up, the momentum largely remained in Springfield’s hands for much of the second half. The Pride kept attacking and gaining chances down in the goal area, sometimes the result was an errant shot and other times, a breakaway was stopped by defensive action. The team let fly numerous corner kicks but with no success either. The scrappy attack might have induced Clark to get more creative in their defense leading to the penalty call in the end.
Springfield took a total of 20 shots in the game, 9 ended up on goal, and Paolini saved 6 of them. Clark took 7 shots, 4 on goal, and Boucher saved 2. It really was a case where Clark rarely got chances but succeeded in the ones they did, while Springfield set up some great attempts but didn’t get it into the net, the score could have been much much different.
Springfield rises to 8-3-2, and 4-1-1 in conference. Clark drops to 2-9-2 and 0-4-1 in conference.
Additional Notes: (Just some of the key plays in the game that didn’t result in a point. Not meant to be exhaustive.)
- SC’s Nicole Fowler uses a front flip on her throw-ins and managed propel the ball far and into good position often throughout the game.
- Springfield Defender Bri Messier had some key defensive stops during the game breaking up Clark’s attempt to set up near the goal in the first. Later in the period she disrupted another attack and got the ball to Boucher so it could be dealt with.
- On a long throw in by Clark, Fowler leapt in the way of the ball and cleared it out of the zone.
- Clark’s Emma Deneault broke up several Springfield attacks early, including putting her leg in the air right in front of well targeted Pride shot preventing possibly a goal. She would later get in the way of a centering attempt.
- Clark’s Simone McGuinness was persistent with kicks and throw-ins giving Springfield a lot to deal with. Nikki Feinberg had several drives toward the net but Springfield didn’t let her finish them off. Teammate Haley Connors was also heavily involved in the effort.
- Clark’s Grace McElroy-Howard leapt high and headed a second period pass by SC to screw up that play.
- It didn’t result in points but Miller had a huge hustle to catch up to a ball rolling into the Clark zone. She was able to create an opportunity where there might not have been one, though Rylee Simons of Clark eventually stopped the set up.
- Simons was a constant thorn in SC’s side stopping and clearing numerous attacks. Macy Golman also got in the way of some Springfield efforts.
- Julia Cormier of SC was battling Simons for the ball towards the back out of bounds line and she cleverly and skillfully ricocheted it off the Clark player and out for a corner kick.
- In the second the Cougars raced for a loose ball deep in the SC zone, but Boucher beat them to it and kicked it away.
- There weren’t a lot of shots requiring out and out saves in the game but Paolini faced one late in the first and was able to knock the shot over the net on a Pride effort.