Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gonzaga women nab first-ever point versus Portland in 1-1 draw

Luke (18) and Cameli (2) exchanged late strikes in dramatic contest Thursday | Photos: Gerald Barnhart
Zero for 20. That was the past the ladies of Gonzaga took into Thursday’s contest with the storied University of Portland Pilots. And after Kaila Cameli’s 70th minute strike on a breakaway put the visitors on top in what had been an even game, it looked like the streak would continue. But with eight minutes left, freshman Lauren Luke altered history for the Bulldogs.

Playing their conference opener, the Pilots came up against a Zags squad that looked like they believed they could finally play Portland to something other than a loss. Though the chances were limited in the first half, all of the good opportunities were by the hosts.

Kasey Rubosky, Gonzaga
In the 13th minute Heather Johnson (Kennewick, WA) sent a glancing header from the near right post on a corner toward the far post, but nobody was there to finish the chance. Three minutes later Emily Eckmann sent another glancing header wide. In the 26th minute a ball played forward into the box to Kasey Rubosky (Spokane, WA) was skied as she tried to first-time it at the six.

Both sides continued to probe before things began to open up a bit more in the second half when several breakaways looked like they were going to alter the contest. Five minutes into the second stanza Rubosky was sent through on a breakaway behind the defense but the goalkeeper Erin Dees made a nice diving save in the middle of the box on the 18-yard effort.

In the 61st minute the Zags had another good look when a turnover at midfield led to Rubosky getting the ball in the box, where she played it squarely to the right to Emma Dolcetti, who turned and fired from about 16 yards to the near post. Dees, was waiting to make the stop, however.

Less than a minute later the Pilots had their first quality chance at the other end when Emily Sippel let loose with a falling shot from the edge of the box that struck the upper corner woodwork.

A 70th minute breakaway for Portland changed the dynamic of the match when Amanda Frisbie played Cameli through behind the defense. Susan Brown charged out to close down the space, but Cameli fired from about 16 yards out, putting it past Brown and into the far side netting.

The visitors nearly doubled the advantage six minutes later when Cameli again got behind the defense, but Brown made a great save in the middle of the box, stretching out to stop the shot.

Lauren Luke, Gonzaga
The stop opened the door for the Zags to find the equalizer, and in the 82nd minute Luke scored just the fourth goal ever for Gonzaga in 21 matches against Portland. Rubosky connected with Johnson, who played the ball up the left side, finding Luke in the midst of a diagonal run inside the left side of the box, where she took a touch with a defender on her shoulder and slipped it past the keeper from about 10 yards.

What appeared to be a harmless 45 yard effort launched inexplicably by Tori Lee with two minutes left nearly gave Gonzaga the win when it almost dropped in over the keeper, but Dees, who was in position from the start, making a rising stab at the ball to knock it over the bar.

The drama continued into extra time where Gonzaga came even closer to a winner nine minutes in when a free kick from Rubosky 22 yards out smacked off the crossbar. In the 103rd minute a ball out of the back that was blocked ricocheted forward, giving Dolcetti a step on the defense, but Dees came out and jammed the shot 11 yards out, sending the ball wide of the goal.

With the Zags holding on and hoping to kill off the clock, the Pilots nearly remained perfect against the Bulldogs with a harrowing series in the final minute. A Noelle LaPrevotte shot from the edge of the box crashed off the underside of the crossbar and bounced right in front of the goal where it bounced straight up and came back down to Portland’s Devlyn Jeter, but here headed popped straight up, allowing Brown to finally recover and snare the ball of the air to halt the danger.