Women’s Soccer Completes Upset, GNAC Semifinals Bound
Suffolk women’s soccer (seventh seed) played their best soccer of the season at the right time this past Sunday as they completed an incredible upset over the number two overall seed, Johnson and Wales University, in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) tournament, winning their match 2-1.
Wind and rain did not stop the Rams from coming out early in the game, as in just the seventh minute Alexandra Nagri sent a cross into the box and Erika Nelson used her head to put the rock past Wildcat’s goalkeeper Colleen Lynch to take the 1-0 lead. Johnson and Wales seemed surprised that arguably the best goalkeeper in the GNAC (0.45 goals per game) let up an early lead to the lower seed.
It didn’t take long for JWU to answer back, as the Wildcats’s forward Catherine Nolan redirected a shot past Suffolk goal keeper Kirsten Weiker for the 1-1 equalizer. The score would remain nodded up at one for the rest of the half.
As the rain came down at the beginning of the second half, Suffolk stepped up its game. In the 82nd minute forward Jennifer Martin was rewarded with a free kick inches outside the penalty box, nearly 20 yards out almost parallel with the goal in an awkward angel, and she sent in a curling shot past Lynch as the Rams jumped for joy, knowing that they were only minutes away from advancing to the semifinals. Martin’s second half goal is one of just four goals scored in the second half against JWU in 2016.
Weiker was just one of five goalies that JWU faced in 21 matches that held the Wildcats to just one goal. The sophomore put together a 10-save performance, dealing with the wet and slippery conditions of both the field and the ball itself. The sophomore has had a very good season, as she has a 2.20 goals against average, and is fifth in the GNAC in saves, with 110.
Talking to sophomore defender Melissa Adamo before the game, she stated simply how the girls knew what was at stake and what their mindset was going into the game,
“We all have the right mindset. We were tied with them last game at halftime. And we fell apart. Today we’re not falling apart.”
Adamo’s words rung true as the Rams did everything but fall apart, as they ended the Wildcats season handing them their only GNAC loss of the season. Suffolk is the first team to defeat Johnson & Wales in the month of October , also ending the Wildcats’ 12-game unbeaten streak. The Rams are also just one of three of JWU’s 21 opponents to score multiple goals against the Wildcats this season. Suffolk moved to 3-3 all-time in conference quarterfinals matches and with Sunday’s win, Suffolk’s 11 victories are tied for second all-time in the program’s history with the 2011 squad, which went 11-8-1.
Suffolk’s success of captains Jennifer Martin, Shannon Simmons and Nagri, as well as midfielders Jessica Harmon and Nelson, have given Suffolk a much improved offense from a season ago. They now rank third in the GNAC in goals with 48 and third in assists with 34. A team that did not make the playoffs a year ago under first year head coach Darren Lloyd is seeing the steady improvement that comes with growing young players and developing team chemistry.
The Rams have never hoisted a GNAC championship trophy, as they will make the program’s third trip to the semifinals and their first since 2013. They will face the third seeded Albertus Magnus Falcons, who were eliminated in the men’s bracket by Suffolk in the quarterfinals Sunday, Wednesday in in New Haven, Connecticut. Kickoff time is to be determined.