Saturday, September 8, 2012

Montana schools post comeback wins on first night of women’s Red Lion Challenge

Sullivan opened the scoring on a dramatic night | Photos: Gerald Barnhart
The 23rd-ranked Carroll College ladies rallied for a 2-1 victory in a three-goal first half against Corban College on the opening night of the two-day Red Lion Challenge at the Dwight Merkel Sports complex in Spokane, but it was the second half of the doubleheader that stole the spotlight as Great Falls came back from two down with three goals in the final 25 minutes to edge Eastern Oregon in the final minute of play.

Corban University 1 :: 2 #23 Carroll College

A through ball from Audrey Correa nine minutes into the contest put Audrey Sullivan behind the defense, allowing her to fire into the lower left corner for the initial lead against the nationally-ranked Saints.

Maddock with two goals
Laura Maddock, however, scored her first two goals of the season inside the next 20 minutes to put Carroll in front for good as the two sides battled to a stalemate in the second half.

Macie Netz (Great Falls, MT) worked her way around the defense in the 24th minute and drove along the endline before slotting the ball back in to Maddock for a one-timer past Kaitlyn Mendenhall to pull even. Five minutes later Kelsey Dye sent in a corner that was redirected by Maddock for what stood as the game-winner.

“They scored first and it actually kinda scared us and settled us down a little bit,” said Carroll head coach David Thorvilson. “We were able to go at them and get behind their defense, and both goals came from us getting the ball outside, taking it to the endline and passing the ball back in. We scored just two brilliant goals finding gaps back in between their defense onto the frame. I thought we’d have a chance to get a couple more of those but everything happened in the first half.”

But as the first half came to a close, it looked as though Corban was the better side, taking control of play.

With about six minutes remaining Emily Boudreau fired a 30-yard free kick from the right side directed just under the crossbar only to see goalkeeper Erin Volz rise up and tip it off the bar to deny the chance. Four minutes later Ashley Beykovsky sent a 15-yard effort from the left side that rang off the crossbar and straight down in front of the line before being cleared by a defender.

Control in the match continued into the second half for the Warriors as the best two chances in the period as both teams limited opportunities defensively. A through ball in the 66th minute put Terrika Weaver behind the defense and alone with Alexis Beattie, who came in at the break. The keeper did well to stuff the chance in the middle of the box and rebound to deny the second chance as well.

“It was two different halves of soccer there,” said Thorvilson. “I told the Corban coach they had the much better second half and put a lot of pressure on us; made us make bad decisions, and they definitely had the better part of that second half. We came up with some good defensive stops and did just enough to come away with the win.” 

Two minutes later Weaver had another close call with a shot from the top right corner of the box that forced a diving save at the near post by Erin Volz, who made a couple nice saves and a number of great defensive plays to interrupt Corban chances to preserve the lead.

“My comment to the team after the game was ‘it’s a hug your defender and goalkeeper day’ because they definitely won the game for us at the end,” Thorvilson said. “Erin has always been an exceptional keeper for us and when we need her, she’s come up and made big saves. She did it again today for us.”

The result, the closest in three games, was the second time this season in which the Saints came from behind. They gave up the first goal in their season opener against Northwest University, but tallied three unanswered. Against the University of Mary, they scored four before giving up a consolation tally. The start led to the team moving up from 25 in the NSCAA’s preseason NAIA poll to 23 coming into the weekend.

“We’re actually quite young. We graduated nine players off last year’s team. We do have a healthy bunch of returners, but we also have a ton of freshman,” Thorvilson said. “To be 3-0 right now and be considered as a top-25 team in the country; it’s nice that our peers think of us that way. I think we’re still growing and have a lot of work to do, but I am excited with the group we have.” 

Eastern Oregon University 2 :: 3 University of Great Falls

It was heartbreak all over again for the Mountaineers, who saw the Argonauts come from behind in Montana in a 2-1 overtime decision two weeks ago after a 1-1 first half. On Friday night they looked to be avoiding that with a two-goal lead midway through the second half on a pair of Michelle Mudder strikes, but three goals from three different players slowly turned the result the other way with Ashley Todd, who scored the two goals in the first meeting driving in the dagger again, this time in the final minute of play with overtime looming.

“Dug ourselves a little bit of a whole and struggled to find the back of the net,” said Great Falls head coach Brian Clarke. “We had our opportunities in the first half as well and they did well to put it in the back and we struggled. It was a good team effort in the second half; showed we wanted it and really pushed hard to get those three goals and come out with the win.”

Perhaps trying to send a message, a shot from Eastern Oregon forced a nice stop from goalkeeper Jocelyn Morris, who continued to make some good defensive plays to limit Mountaineer chances.

A through ball put Todd (Cardwell, MT) behind the defense in the 27th minute, but her uncontested shot from inside the penalty arc went a foot wide of the left post.

Mudder's brace not enough
Ten minutes later they would regret the missed chance when Mauriana Gonzalez sent the ball up the left side to Haley Hill (Boise, ID), who immediately delivered the ball inside the box to Mudder for the go-ahead goal inside the far side netting.

The Mountaineers took control of the contest from that point. Eight minutes into the second half Kealiana De Vera sent a 25-yard shot off the right corner of the crossbar to get the second half off to a positive start for Eastern Oregon.

Gonzalez would again find Mudder just after an hour when she sent a ball over the defense to Mudder, who won the one-on-one with a shot from inside the box on the right side to double the advantage in the 63rd minute.

Two minutes later Great Falls began to claw back into the contest. Nicole Donis drove down the left flank and fired a shot from the edge of the box that forced Kailey Moss to make a save at the near post that went out for a corner. The ensuing restart from Lauren Osdowski found the head of Kayelyn Swart, who put it into the far side netting from 10 yards out.

“I think we are a pretty emotional team and so we go with the ebb and flow of the game and getting that one goal really sparked us and got us back into it,” Clarke said. “You did could kinda see the emotional energy turn in favor for us.”

Eastern Oregon nearly answered right back in the 67th when a through ball put Mudder in a race to the top of the box with the keeper. The two arrived at the same time with the ball popping loose from the sliding block of the keeper and slowly rolling toward goal, but Morris did well to recover and leap onto the ball before it got to the line.

Chances dried up for both sides until Mayra Castillo struck in the 79th minute by looping a shot from 15 yards out on the left side over the keeper, who was coming out on the play, to level the match at two apiece.

Three minutes later Mudder sent a shot from 30 yards out on the right side that narrowly missed giving the Mountaineers the lead again, whistling by the far upper corner.

As the cool air of late summer began to permeate the air, it looked as though the two sides were headed to overtime when a fantastic run from Todd decided the outcome. She drove from midfield up the left flank before working her way into the box and firing past the keeper from about 13 yards with less than a minute remaining on the clock.

“We’ve played this team actually twice, and it’s both of our wins this season. The first one was in overtime; it was sudden victory as well.” Clarke said bout the Argos’ start to the season. “We played last weekend and struggled a bit playing the number 22 team in the nation to 4-1. We showed a glimpse of the kind of soccer we can play right (tonight), it’s just putting a full 90 together.

“I think we got a lot of positives looking forward if we can keep the momentum, keep our heads up, keep healthy. And we have a strong schedule where we play a lot of quality teams, but I think we’ve shown we can do that and this is a good confidence boost for the girls.”