The River Hawks’ second goal came in the last second of overtime. (Courtesy of UMass Lowell Athletics)
With one second remaining in double overtime, the River Hawks were able to find the back of the net, thanks to a shot from midfielder Andrea Morrow, to earn their first victory of the season in a 2-1 matchup against New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). It only took three minutes for the women’s soccer team to score their first goal of the season, but a goal late in the second half from the visiting Highlanders sent the game into overtime.
“They didn’t give up, it was literally the last second and they dug down and kept going,” said UMass Lowell head coach Francesco D’Agostino. “It’s our third overtime game, so it can be tiring and they just didn’t quit. The subs entered really well, we scored a great first goal, [and] the tactics paid off. To not give up and continue to build, even in the last five seconds in the final third just shows that they’re growing with the season.”
The River Hawks (1-0-2) started off the game with a strong string of passes, eventually resulting in the early goal. In the 3rd minute, midfielder Rachel Morrier made a run as a she dodged the defense to get an open shot off. The ball curved and struck the goal post, bouncing in past NJIT goalkeeper Karen David.
UMass Lowell only had two other shot attempts in the first half, but held most of the possession early on, due to their speed. However, the River Hawks struggled to get the ball past midfield, as well as moving into the box.
The Highlander’s first look on goal was not until 15 minutes into the game when they tried to send a cross in to open players near the goal. The ball was cleared by UMass Lowell defenders, but forward Carly Berdan was able to recover the ball and get a shot off, which went wide of the net.
The UMass Lowell defense continued to maintain a solid front, not allowing NJIT (0-3-0) to get into the box as they continually picked the ball away. This led to more chances for the River Hawks to push the ball forward, but they could not capitalize in these chances.
In the 29th minute, a run started by Jaymee Luke provided the River Hawks with another opportunity to score. After running up the sidelines, she sent the ball to Kristin Birgisdottir who found an open Karah Fleet in front of the net. As Fleet turned to shoot, David had her eye on the ball to make the save for the Highlanders.
NJIT looked to tie the game minutes later when midfielder Katrina Nguyen-DeMary sent the ball towards the goal, but UMass Lowell goalkeeper Julia Schneider grabbed it. The Highlanders maintained this pressure for the remaining minutes of the first half, but the River Hawks defense was unwavering. This resulted in some corner and free kicks for NJIT, but the crosses were all cleared.
Starting the second half, NJIT kept the ball in front of UMass Lowell’s goal due to numerous corner kicks. The first came in the 57th minute after defender Alexandra Guzman slid to clear the ball from the feet of Highlander forward Christine Conaghy. Jennifer Callahan followed with a shot minutes later, but Schneider dived to make the save. At the end of regulation play, Schneider finished with four saves, while David had two for the Highlanders.
UMass Lowell struggled to find their pace in the last half and did not see a chance to extend their lead until the 68th minute. The ball was crossed in from the side of the goal, but David snagged it in the air.
Berdan gave the Highlanders the goal they needed to tie the game at 1-1 in the 76th minute when she dribbled up the field and found the back of the net without much interference from the River Hawks’ defense.
“We made some changes in the back line to give some people a break, it was warm, and it’s not that it broke down necessarily, we just got away from playing and we started going a little bit more direct, which we’re not really trying to do and kind of fell into that hole a little bit and came back out if it later,” added D’Agostino regarding the defense.
UMass Lowell had a chance to retake the lead in the 86th minute following a pass from Morrier to midfielder Olivia Crema, but the shot went just wide of the net. Morrier ended the afternoon with a game-high five shots on goal.
With a tie game, an additional ten minutes of overtime were played. NJIT had a shot right out of the gates, but Schneider made the save. Elle Cooper attempted a shot from distance for the River Hawks, but it was easily saved.
The game went into a second and final overtime, as neither team notched another goal. NJIT utilized their corner kick opportunities and placed the ball close to the net, but any shot was cleared or saved by Schneider.
The River Hawks did not create any chances to get near the goal until the last minute when they were awarded a free kick. The shot went wide of the net, but it was not until the very last second when midfielder Andrea Morrow took the shot from the top of the box after gathering a pass from Morrier. She turned to shoot and the ball found the back of the net to win the game for the River Hawks.
“I saw Rachel [Morrier] with the ball and she did such a good job to draw in the defenders and I knew with only a few seconds left, we had to commit everybody forward, so as soon as I saw her do that, I just ran in,” said Morrow on the game-winning shot. “I listened to the clock for three seconds and then I just put my head down and ripped the shot and it went in.”
The River Hawks play at Colgate this Thursday, August 31 at 5 p.m. and return to Cushing Field on Sunday, September 3 to take on Sacred Heart at 2 p.m.