NEW BRITAIN - The Central Connecticut State womenâ€™s soccer team needed all 90 minutes to win its home opener against Albany on Thursday night.
Redshirt-freshman forward Kelly Brady poked the ball past Great Danesâ€™ goalkeeper Sophia Chen with 42 seconds left in the game to give the Blue Devils a 2-1 win and their first victory of the season. Senior defender Erica Bardes picked up her second assist of the game on the score, sending a pass into the left side of the box that Brady put her foot on to take the lead.
The win balances CCSUâ€™s season-opening loss to UConn and give it a 1-1 record after two matches.
â€śIt was a great ball from Erica, I was just able to get a foot on the end of it,â€ť Brady said. â€śIt was just a great feeling, a great pick-me-up to be able to win that game and get that three points.â€ť
Despite having less than a minute on the clock, Bradyâ€™s goal did not secure the game as tightly as expected. A last-second foul against CCSU gave Marisa Tava a free kick from range and Amanda McQuillan extended to the height of the crossbar to deflect the shot away from the goal and hang on to the one-goal lead. McQuillan finished with five saves on six shots on goal from Albany.
â€śI thought they were dangerous on set plays, they hit the crossbar off a corner kick,â€ť head coach Mick Dâ€™Arcy said. â€śItâ€™s difficult when a team is as good at set plays as they are because every time you give up a corner kick or a free kick, you know theyâ€™re going to get a chance from it. They were always in the game and it was just a case of finding a way at the end.â€ť
The Blue Devils controlled the pace of the match for much of the first half, taking the lead early on a goal from Abbey Chase in the 10th minute. Bardesâ€™ passing prowess was on display from the start as she created this chance with a well-placed pass from near midfield that put Chase in prime scoring position.
Bardes looked to initiate offense throughout the contest, assisting on both goals and finishing the match with three shots, which was second-most on the team.
â€śSheâ€™s a left back, but sheâ€™s probably the most attacking left back in the country,â€ť Dâ€™Arcy said. â€śShe gets a lot of recognition over the last two seasons because of the goals and the assists that she had. Sheâ€™s a huge offensive threat for us and a [great] defender too, but we also get a lot of production from her further up the field. She had one or two shots as well that were dangerous, sheâ€™s a constant threat.â€ť
Devon Schmitt tied the match for Albany 10 minutes after Chaseâ€™s goal with a header off of a corner kick from Tava. Losing the lead altered the pace of the game for the Blue Devils and they struggled to run their offense for much of the remaining time before halftime.
â€śYou hate to concede goals on corner kicks,â€ť Dâ€™Arcy said. â€śI thought that took the wind out of our sails a little bit and we lost a little bit of confidence after that. We got it back after the water break, but never really took the game over again in the first half.â€ť
Although CCSU did not retake the lead until the final minute of play, the offense moved the ball well and created several quality scoring chances in the second half. Brady got behind Albanyâ€™s defense and nearly scored earlier in the half, but pushed the shot wide of the goal.
â€śThe second half was definitely a lot better than the first,â€ť McQuillan said. â€śWe possessed the ball and got balls in the box, got a few chances and stopped them from taking many shots.â€ť
The Blue Devils will return to the pitch Sunday to host the University of New Hampshire.
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com.