by Tom Utescher
In last Saturday’s contest at Victory Field, the women of host Chestnut Hill College had an advantage in most categories on the stat sheet, but the figures that everyone could see were up in lights at one end of the pitch. There, to the disappointment of the Griffin faithful, the scoreboard showed rival Dominican College ahead 1-0 at the final horn.
Visiting from Orangeburg, NY (about 20 miles north of New York City), the Lady Chargers scored early in the second half and made the lone goal endure the rest of the way, despite some furious assaults by the Griffins. The hosts had been the clear leaders in terms of ball possession, and they outdid Dominican in total shots (17-8) and corner kicks (7-2). Both ballclubs had trouble putting their shots on-net, and CHC junior goalie Jessica Veazey came away with one save for the day, while Chargers freshman Kaitlyn Hertz had three.
The two teams came into the match with middle-of-the-road records within the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, Chestnut Hill at 5-4 and Dominican 4-4-1. The outcome elevated the Chargers to 6-6-1 overall, while CHC slipped below the .500 mark, at 7-8.
Saturday was Senior Day for the women’s team, and the Griffins have two Laurens leaving, defensive mainstay Lauren Brown and scorer extraordinaire Lauren Riiff. Once the game got underway, it was clear that the Chargers were well aware of Riiff. She had to work hard to free herself, and almost all of her shots were contested in some fashion. Her first two attempts tracked high, one of them close to the upper left corner of the cage. Another boot from along the right endline burrowed into the outside of the net, and additional Riiff rips were saved at the right and left goalposts.
The half ended with a 6-2 edge in shots for Chestnut Hill, but with the score still 0-0. Seasoned soccer fans have seen plenty of games where one team’s offensive charges are frequent but fruitless, and the opponent squeaks out a win with one lucky rush.
That wasn’t quite the case here – Dominican was better than that – but Griffin players and fans still had to swallow a heaping helping of frustration. The Chargers’ offense was more organized and effective at the start of the second half than it had been in the first frame.
Just over eight minutes into the new period, Dominican had the ball along the left endline and sent it into the near side of the box, where it was settled by Antonopoulos. CHC’s Veazey was midway between the left post and the middle of the cage, and Antonopoulos lifted a shot just high and wide to the right of the Griffins’ goalie.
Now up 1-0, Dominican earned back-to-back corners, but after that Chestnut Hill controlled the ball for much of the final half-hour. Riiff penetrated along the left endline and crossed the ball in the air, but Dominican keeper Hertz hauled it in without difficulty. On a longer Riiff serve from the same side, the hosts had no one in place to seal the play at the far post.
Riiff rifled a shot into the middle of the crossbar with 17 minutes to go, and soon after that a CHC corner kick from the right side was plucked out of the air by Hertz. The Chargers’ keeper was also in position to gather in an outside shot by CHC sophomore Steph Litty with a dozen minutes remaining in the game. On another corner, the ball came out over the middle of the 18 and sophomore Marykate McShane sent a solid shot in at the left post, but Hertz got enough of her gloves on the ball to brush it outside the upright.
So it went. There were more attempts by Riiff, and a promising but ultimately futile break up the left wing by CHC freshman Dakota Sheehan. In the end, Dominican’s Hertz hung onto her shutout, disappointing the denizens of Victory Field.