WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) women's soccer team fell in dramatic fashion for the second consecutive game, suffering a 2-1 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) overtime loss on Wednesday afternoon to the visiting Simmons University Sharks at Hoffman Field on the campus of The Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, Conn. With the setback, the Blue Jays drop to 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the league, while the Sharks improve to 3-3 and 2-1. The USJ women's soccer team returns to the pitch next in a road GNAC contest at Suffolk on Saturday beginning at 3:00 p.m.
After a scoreless opening 45 minutes of action, the Blue Jays wasted little time getting on the scoreboard just 3:25 into the second period. Senior Sarah Palko (Southington, Conn.) played a perfect long ball up to graduate senior Jessica Spezzano (Watertown, Conn.) down the left wing. Spezzano gathered and crossed an attempt into the penalty area, but was unable to find anyone crashing toward the net. However, the Sharks clearance landed right at the feet of junior Olivia Norton (Berlin, Conn.) who ripped a shot with her left foot into the bottom right corner of the net to put Saint Joseph up 1-0 in the 48th minute.
The Sharks would respond and tie the match in the 67th minute to force overtime. Simmons' senior Mallory Cottam (Hope, R.I.) drove up the left side of the field and played a long through ball to the far post to junior forward Amber Nobbs (Granville, Mass.). Nobbs' first-touch shot rocketed over the hand of USJ junior keeper Megan Ricci (Center Moriches, N.Y.) and into the top of the net to tie things up at the 66:52 mark.
Saint Joseph had a pair of excellent chances to potentially win the game in regulation in the 77th and 83rd minutes. Freshman Ali O'Neill (Litchfield, Conn.) ripped a brilliant strike on frame from 30-yards out at the 76:47 mark that drilled the crossbar and the rebound came out directly to classmate Paola Jimenez (East Hartford, Conn.) who had a pair of cracks on goal, but Simmons' senior netminder Lauren Williams (Bowdoinham, Maine) made two huge stops in an 18-second span to keep the game deadlocked. Then, in the 83rd minute, a ball was crossed in from the right corner and found a wide-open Palko at the near post, but her header attempt caromed off the side post to force overtime.
The Sharks dodged the threats in regulation as USJ dominated the majority of possession and also outshot Simmons 10-6 in the second 45 minutes of play and found the game-winner 6:22 into the first overtime period to hand the tough-luck loss to the Blue Jays. Following a USJ foul just inside midfield, Cottom took the free-kick and sent a long ball that found space and bounced just outside the penalty area and over all of the Blue Jays to senior Ciara Forde (Quincy, Mass.) who beat Ricci for the golden goal victory.
Ricci was dealt the loss between the pipes after making eight saves for USJ and falls to 2-4 on the year, while Williams made nine stops and improves to 3-3 for the visitors.
Saint Joseph held a slight 18-15 overall advantage in shots in the match and each team finished with 10 shots on goal. Simmons held a slight, 4-2, edge in corner kick opportunities.
The USJ women's soccer team will be back in action next on Saturday on the road in another GNAC battle versus Suffolk. The Blue Jays and Rams are scheduled to kickoff at 3:00 p.m.