Women's Soccer Wins Regular Season Title with 2-1 Victory over Bucknell
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy women’s soccer team rounded off its undefeated Patriot League season with a 2-1 win versus the second-place Bucknell Bison on Saturday night at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility. Held out of the goal scoring column over the first 18 games of 2017, the duo of Cadie Higginson (So., New Orleans, La.) and Mary August (Jr., Arnold, Md.) picked an opportune time to break those personal droughts as they powered the Mids’ (15-3-1, 8-0-1 PL) offense with single tallies. Coming in as winners of nine of their last 11 games, the Bison (10-8, 7-2 PL) were smothered offensively and held to just five total shots, with none in the second half.
“It’s great to get a hard fought win against a very good Bucknell team,” remarked head coach Carin Gabarra. “We played well tonight. There were definitely positives and negatives in our performance. There are things that we will improve on moving forward. There’s a chance we play Bucknell again in the tournament so there are quite a few areas that we have to be better in. I think we can do a little better job putting away our chances early because that helps us later on.”
Following a short ceremony to honor the Mids’ senior class, the home team’s offense almost immediately imposed its will with numerous shots and threatening crosses coming at the Bison. That initial flurry of action came to a head in the eighth minute when Clare MacAdam (Sr., Palmyra, N.J.) put a free kick from 20 yards out perfectly into the box and head-high for Higginson to snap a header shot to the back of the net and past Bucknell’s goalkeeper, Dani Kaufman.
Not satisfied with a 1-0 advantage, the Mids continued keeping its foot on the pedal offensively with MacAdam as the lead orchestrator. In a two-minute run of play, she took a shot wide before blasting another shot on goal at Kaufman.
A short time later, Navy ramped up its pressure on Bucknell’s goalie again during the 29th and 30th minutes. Coming in off the bench at 28th minute, freshman Emily Keast (Fr., Springfield, Va.) also immediately found the Mids’ second goal as she was served a well-paced through ball by Meghan Hegarty (Sr., Richmond, Va.) and cranked a shot on goal that Kaufman saved. The Mids’ next shot on goal came just over 60 seconds later as Ash Fairow (Jr., Jacksonville, N.C.) looked to go low five-hole on Kaufman. Fairow’s attempt was denied as the ball was deflected by Kaufman and skipped away just shy of the goal mouth.
On Bucknell’s fifth (and eventual final) shot of the game, Kendal Ham, the Patriot League’s goal leader in conference-play, knotted the game at 1-1 in the 44th minute. After Ham’s initial shot was blocked at the top of the 18-yard box, the forward controlled the rebound and connected for the long-range goal.
Though the score went into the halftime break tied at 1-1, the Mids held a significant 11-5 advantage in total shots and 5-2 mark in shots on goal.
Coming into the day needing a win or tie to obtain the Patriot League regular season title and hosting responsibilities for the postseason tournament, Navy came out in the second half looking none too interested in the latter option of tying its way to a title. The forward duo of MacAdam and Fairow were active early on with Fairow nearly setting up two high-percentage scoring opportunities for MacAdam, once on a cross from the left wing that was thwarted by Kaufman and another on a lead pass on a throw-in.
With all of this action centering around the forwards, it was only apropos that a defender and midfielder would set up the game-winning goal in the 64th minute. Following a foul by Bucknell 40 yards from goal, Alex Jackson (So., Centennial, Colo.) got too much on her free kick cross into the box that seemingly surprised Kaufman on a short hop. Unable to handle the ball cleanly a cluster of Bison defenders frantically attempted to clear the ball from inside the six-yard box only to hit a clearing pass off of August near the goal line for the deflection into the gapping net. The right-place, right-time goal by August was her first of the season and second of her career.
With the score 2-1 in favor of the Mids, the final 26 minutes of play would see the teams combine for one total shot, a wide attempt by Navy’s Baseley McClaskey (So., Grand Junction, Colo.) in the 86th minute.
For the game, Navy outshot Bucknell, 16-5, with a 7-2 margin in shots on goal and a 4-0 sweep of corner kicks.
In goal, Sydney Fortson (So., Claremont, Calif.) made one save as she won her 15th game of the season.
Saturday night marked the final regular season home game for the seven-person Navy Women’s Soccer Class of 2018. The group of team captain Clare MacAdam, Natalie Dzhandzhapanyan, Liza Harris, Meghan Hegarty, Madeline Ostrowski, Megan Rogers and team manager Max Cherry has won 47 games to date with appearances in four straight Patriot League postseason tournaments.
“Our senior class has been great this year,” said Gabarra. “This was their senior day game so it’s hard for not every player on this team to give everything that they have for that group. Our seniors have changed a lot with our culture. This year has been all about finishing and playing all 90 minutes. We’ve shown the heart and energy to do that effectively throughout the season and we’ll need to continue doing that moving on into the postseason.”
At the conclusion of the nine-game Patriot League season, Navy finished a game and half ahead of the league with an 8-0-1 record. That mark is the best for the Mids since the nine-game schedule was installed in 2013 with the addition of Loyola and Boston U. to the league. Bucknell finished runner-up with a 7-2 mark in conference play. As the regular season champions, Navy will host both the semifinal and final rounds of the Patriot League postseason tournament next Friday (5:00 p.m./7:30 p.m.) and Sunday (12 p.m.).
“Hosting the tournament is great,” said Gabarra. “Having to travel during 12-week exams is always tough for us. Last year we had a hard road and that’s something we’ve learned from and strived to be better this year. It’s exciting to be home and it’s exciting to be on our own field for the tournament.”
Navy’s opponent in the 5:00 p.m. game will be determined Tuesday night after the quarterfinal matchups of #6 Lafayette at #3 Boston U. and #5 Lehigh at #4 Colgate are contested.
Final Regular Season Standings
3-Boston U., 6-2-1
7-Holy Cross, 2-4-3