BENNINGTON, Vt. – After taking a 2-0 lead, the Southern Vermont College women's soccer team saw the visiting Sage Colleges Gators come back to even the score in regulation and then defeat the Mountaineer 3-2 with an overtime goal at Everett Field Wednesday afternoon.
Wednesday marked the first meeting between the two programs since 1999, giving Sage a 4-3-1 edge in the all-time series.
"Tonight was a great result for the team," said Sage head coach Andrew Gamarra. He added, "We've been battling injury, and trying to get healthy for conference. The team was really able to come together and face the challenge. I must give credit to Southern Vermont--they stuck to their game plan and gave us a great game."
Gator junior captain Nicole Maher (Glen Cove, NY/Saint Dominic) got in behind the SVC defense almost half way through the extra period on a long pass by freshman Nicole Soultanian (Stillwater, NY/Stillwater Central) for the game winner and her first goal of the season.
Sage started the game with high energy and a lot of pressure, owning control of the ball in the Mountaineer half of the field. However, the Gators were forced to shoot from outside of the box by the Southern Vermont defense and couldn't find great looks at the goal.
With all of Sage up near the halfway line, SVC seized the opportunity of having an empty opposite side of the field and played a ball long to sophomore Lauren Nesshoever (Rutland, Vermont). She was able to maneuver around the Sage keeper and bury it in the back of the net for a 1-0 lead and her first goal as a Mountaineer 11:37 into the game. About 24 minutes later, Southern Vermont made a similar play on the right side of the field, allowing Nesshoever to get in behind the Gator keeper once more and slot it home for the 2-0 advantage.
That margin wouldn't last too long, however, as Sage got on the scoreboard when Soultanian brought the ball down the left side, drawing much of the Mountaineer defense towards her. She played the ball square across the box to the feet of on-running junior Desiree Rodwell (East Greenbush, NY/Lansingburgh) who finished the open look for her first goal of the season and Soultanian's first assist of the day.
The score remained 2-1 through the break and into the 57th minute when the Gators won a corner kick that would pay dividends. Junior Alexandra Robert (Melrose, NY/Hoosic Valley) played a lofting ball from the flag directly to the middle of the box where sophomore Savannah Mason (Wynantskill, NY/Averill Park) leaped up and headed it over the hands of Mountaineer freshman keeper Melissa Mascari (Saratoga Springs, New York) to make it 2-2. The equalizer was Mason's third goal of the year.
Sage saw handfuls of chances as time ran low, but Mascari was able to keep the ball out the net and force an overtime. SVC nearly ended it soon into the extra stanza when sophomore Melodie Orrell (Gloucester, Mass.) carried the ball from 45 yards out down into the box on the left side and got a shot off at goal. Gator senior keeper Teagan Waddingham (Coeymans Hollow, NY/Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk) got a hand on the ball to deflect it, and the ball started bouncing near the line across the face of the goal. While the Mountaineers watched with bated breath, the ball ceased to cross over the paint and play continued.
Soon after, Sage had a golden opportunity of its own squandered when a shot ripped by Soultanian was rejected by a fully-extended Mascari by the near post. Minutes later, however, Soultanian played the ball down the field where Maher was able to run on to it and take a shot at net, putting it in for the decider.
Waddingham recorded two saves in the win (2-2-1) while Mascari turned away 18 Gator shots in the loss (0-4).
SVC (0-4) is back in action Saturday when the Mountaineers hit the road for a 2 p.m. match at Mount Holyoke College, and the Gators (2-2-1) are off until Saturday, September 20 when they visit St. Joseph's College Long Island to open up Skyline Conference action with a 1 p.m. start.