A rainy day marked a dreary 2-1 loss for the Juniata College women’s soccer team. The Eagles failed to defend their home turf and fell to the Drew College Rangers. Fans crowded into Juniata’s newly-constructed Gibbel Stadium on Oct. 8 to watch this Landmark Conference game.
Prior to the match, the Eagles’ record stood at 3-4-1 and the Rangers at 4-4-1. With nearly identical records, spectators, totaling about 50, expected the game to be a close call. “They’re both talented teams,” said Jason Young, a Huntingdon resident and long-time Juniata fan. “I just hope we’re all braving the rain for something.”
As the rivals began playing, the Eagles held the clear upper hand. The ball seemed stuck on Juniata’s scoring side. In only 20 minutes of play, the Eagles had made three shots on goal. Relying on breakaways and headers, Juniata appeared to be the team to bet on. Drew continued to drag behind until Juniata forfeited the game’s first corner kick. Drew took this opportunity and scored the first goal of the game at 20:50. Drew’s Thalia Santacruz, assisted by Caroline Kelly, made her first goal of the season and lit a match under the seats of both the teams and the spectators alike. The Eagles immediately retaliated, growing more aggressive, but the Rangers answered forcefully, fighting back and maintaining possession of the ball.
Only seven short minutes later, Juniata’s Anna Kauffman made a breakaway that slipped past the Drew defensive line and landed a goal for the Eagles. At 27:02, the score was 1-1.
The ten-minute halftime did nothing to re-energize the players. In fact, as the half began it looked like neither team had practiced in weeks. Gameplay remained slow, but the athletes grew frustrated, shoving each other. The crowd amplified their own irritation as the referees ignored some fouls on the field.
With two minutes left in the game, the spectators were anticipating overtime. But, Drew’s Erin Connors, assisted by Alexis Castanheira, scored the game-winning goal off of a rebound with just 59 seconds left in the game. The Eagles did all they could to even the score in the remaining seconds, but the Rangers defended their goal and kept the ball in their possession, winning the game 2-1.
“The team really needs to work on their energy as a whole,” said Scott McKenzie, Juniata’s head coach. “There were sparks of drive, and they played well, but I’m not convinced they really wanted it until Drew scored that last goal.”
“We needed the Landmark win,” said Chris Condron, an assistant coach of Drew’s women’s soccer team. “The girls are all psyched, but, I have to say, all of the coaches thought this game was going into OT. Needless to say, this is a great win to bring home with us.”
Despite Juniata’s loss, the Eagles will play on. Their next home game is on Oct. 22 against Moravian College. Drew also goes on to face Moravian College on Oct. 18.