New Haven, Conn. – Senior Taylor Rotella (Milford, Conn.) scored the game-winning goal in overtime to lead the No. 3 seed Albertus Magnus College women's soccer team past visiting No. 7 seed Suffolk, 1-0, on Wednesday evening in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Tournament Semifinals at Celentano Field.
With the win, the Falcons (11-7-1) advance to the GNAC Championship game for the first time in program history, while the Rams (11-10) see their postseason run come to an end.
Late in the second overtime frame, Rotella headed the game-winner past Suffolk goalkeeper Kirsten Weiker off a corner from sophomore midfielder Kerrigan Loughman (Trumbull, Conn.).
The marker was Rotella's sixth of the season and her second game-winner of 2016. Loughman picked up her team-leading seventh assist of the autumn on a beautiful cross from the corner.
"We still have work left to do, but I couldn't be prouder of this group and what they have done this season," Albertus Magnus College Head Coach Nick Wajnowski said.
Albertus threatened to score and push pressure on Weiker and the Rams backline early in the contest. Junior midfielder Alexya Alves (Naugatuck, Conn.) fired a shot just over the crossbar off a corner from classmate Angelina Piccirillo (Naugatuck, Conn.) two and a half minutes into play. Three minutes later, Alves once again had a shot go just high and senior Liz Nagy (Meriden, Conn.) ended the early Falcon flurry with a shot wide.
The Rams would answer with several scoring chances of their own during the first half. The first came on a blast from striker Alexandra Nagri and later Erica Nelson had a bid that was turned aside by Albertus Magnus sophomore goalkeeper Lexie Fenn (Oakville, Conn.).
Neither squad was able to break through in the opening half and the squads entered the break scoreless. It was a similiar story in the second half and the game moved to overtime tied at zero.
The hosts put pressure on the Rams in the first overtime period, but were unable to break through. Senior Danielle Polvan (East Haven, Conn.), junior Amanda Montano (North Haven, Conn.) and Piccirillo all had shots that were just high of the target. Montano also clanked a shot off the crossbar during the first ten minutes of overtime.
In net, Fenn stopped all four shots she faced to post her fifth shutout of the autumn. Fenn's clean sheet was her second in a row and all five have come against conference opponents this season. On the opposite end, Weiker made seven saves in a losing effort.
Albertus Magnus held a 22-8 advantage in shots and took five corners compared to zero for the guests. The Falcons threatened on two corners in overtime before Rotella broke though with the game-winner.
Albertus Magnus advances to face No.1 seed and defending conference champion Lasell on Saturday, November 5, in the GNAC Championship game. The Falcons are looking to avenge a 2-0 setback on the road against the Lasers earlier this fall.