Monday, August 31, 2015

Gonzaga women top Roadrunners 3-1

Aliyah Miller helped lead defense, opened scoring... Zags celebrate third goal | Full Gallery [+] 
The Gonzaga women rebounded from a heartbreaking 3-2 overtime loss Friday with a quality performance in a 3-1 victory Sunday afternoon against visiting CSU-Bakersfield. Karley Baggerly helped lead the way with a goal and assist.

The Bulldogs were suffocating defensively against the Roadrunners, who struggled most of the first half to build out of the back and work through the pressure of the Gonzaga midfield. With a first half stalemate, the hard work would pay off in the second half as the visitors wore down quickly.

Less than two minutes into the second half a lengthy free kick from the left side by Savanah Van Citters dropped in just outside of the six and bounced high enough for Aliyah Miller to nod it over a few players and past goalkeeper Tori Ornela for the go-ahead goal.

Baggerly, who presented problems for the Roadrunner defense throughout the contest, pushed the lead to two in the 62nd minute thanks to a great run from Sydney Anderson, who drove up the left side and sent a low cross into the area for the on-rushing striker. Baggerly one-timed the effort from about eight yards out, looping it up and just under bar out of Ornela's reach.

"We knew just going with the wind at times we'd get a little bit predictable, and I think that's what hurt us with creating some real dangerous chances," said Gonzaga Head Coach Amy Edwards. "But what was critical was that we shut them down in the midfield. We knew they were a real physical team and really looked to find those second balls, so we keyed in on that on the defensive side.

"At halftime, we did change to a 4-4-2 because we weren't getting the width from our outside backs and from our forwards in the 4-3-3. So when we went to that 4-4-2 it opened things up. I knew we were going to have to pull their defense out. I also knew the ball might hold up a little bit more going against the wind for Karley to get on the end of some of those balls that we played through so that opened up her game a little bit more and got her a little bit more help with the numbers."

Five minutes later the visitors stunned the Bulldogs with a free kick from the center line. Ornela came forward to send the dead ball into the area, but the effort carried in the wind and caught Christie Tombari too far out. Tombari reached back to get a hand to it, but it was not enough as it fell into the goal.

Baggerly, though, restored the two-goal advantage immediately with a run on the left to set up the team's third strike. Driving into the area from the left corner, she laid the ball off to the top of the box where Heather Johnson drilled it on frame from the left corner of the penalty arc, deflecting in off the outstretched hand of Ornela.

Gonzaga held CSUB off the rest of the way and nearly added a fourth with five minutes left when Maddie Kincaid launched a great shot from about 30 yards headed to the right post that Ornela had to make a nice dive to reach and parry away.

Baggerly's performance Sunday gave her three goals and an assist for the weekend as she helped fuel a dramatic two-goal rally Friday against Vanderbilt. Last year she tallied four goals and four assists as a sophomore.

"Karley has actually given us glimpses of what she's capable of doing and this year we are going to need it more than ever with the loss of so many seniors from last year."

Trailing by two since the 21st minute, she cut the deficit when she stole the ball from a Vanderbilt defender six minutes into the second half and put it in the lower corner out of the keeper's reach. With just seconds to spare, she tied the match up with another low shot on a ball from Kelly Bieraugel. The visitors, however, snatched the victory four minutes into overtime.

"That was really disappointing," Edwards said of Friday's loss. "I was so impressed with their second half. One ball in behind and the kid had a brilliant finish. What I was proud of them for was their character to battle back.

"But I have seen in the last couple of games that we had a slow start, and so today I was different - our start was definitely much better and hopefully that's gonna be the trend we can continue on.

"We gotta get a bit more experience. As you look around, we've got some players that don't have a lot of experience on the field, so we are going through a bit of growing. I think we definitely got better on Friday - even though we lost that game - and we got better today, so that's positive."