Women’s Soccer Knocks Off Colgate to Advance to Patriot League Finals
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Driven by a passionate standing-room only crowd and the promise of a berth into the 2017 Patriot League Championship game on the line, the Navy women’s soccer team came out on a mission Friday night versus the Colgate Raiders. Playing in the first semifinal of the Patriot League Tournament, the Mids (16-3-1) rode a red-hot Ash Fairow (Jr., Jacksonville, N.C.), who recorded just the third hat trick in the 27-year history of the conference tournament, to the tune of 3-0 victory over Raiders (10-7-2) at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility.
“What a great night,” exclaimed head coach Carin Gabarra. “You can’t beat this weather; it was a beautiful night at home. We love to play at home. We can’t thank the Midshipmen enough for the great crowd and the great atmosphere. To top it off we got a great win versus a fantastic Colgate team that really went at us hard. This was a really good night for Navy Women’s Soccer!
“I thought we did a good job attacking and defending as a unit. I got on them a little bit at halftime as I didn’t feel our first half was so great, but we fixed some things and played much better soccer in the second half.”
In front of the third-largest crowd for a women’s soccer game in the history of the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility, the announced crowd of 2,418 spectators had something to cheer almost immediately as Fairow, the 2017 Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, broke the 0-0 tie in just the seventh minute of play. After Clare MacAdam (Palmyra, N.J.) gathered the ball near midfield, the senior team captain found Fairow in space over 30 yards from goal and it was off to the races as the junior forward went one-on-one with the Raiders’ final defender before slotting a low shot to the corner past Colgate’s goalie Kelly Chiavaro at 6:15.
Less than five minutes later, Fairow nearly facilitated the Mids’ second goal of the game as her lengthy throw-in was flicked on goal by a Cadie Higginson (So., New Orleans, La.) header attempt.
The top-seeded Navy squad kept the offensive pressure on and at 24:40 it paid off with a second goal. Once again, Fairow was the scorer as she was the recipient of a poorly cleared ball by a Colgate defender. After gathering possession of the ball in the box, Fairow took a few dribbles and ripped a shot from five yards out to make it 2-0.
Heading towards the end of the first half, the fourth-seeded Raiders attempted to stir up some offense and nearly succeeded in the 38th minute when Leah Lewis headed an Ellis Miller corner kick on goal, requiring Sydney Fortson (So., Claremont, Calif.) to make the save.
Coming out of the halftime intermission, Colgate continued its quest for a marker. Fortson was up the challenge on Keely Lockwood’s shot on goal in the 52nd minute to keep it 2-0 in favor of the Mids.
The action continued back-and-forth up the field for both teams. Meghan Hegarty (Sr., Richmond, Va.) was on the hunt for the Mids’ third goal as over a nine-minute run of play between the 72nd and 81st minutes, the Patriot League Midfielder of the Year, took three shots with one a header in the 76th deflecting off the cross bar before another header shot forced Chiavaro to leave her line and make the save.
With Colgate making one final offensive push down the stretch, Fairow capped her first career hat trick with a goal at 84:00. Baseley McClaskey (So., Grand Junction, Colo.) started the play near midfield and once again, a well-placed pass into space gave Fairow all the opening that she would need as she dribbled in on the breakaway and deposited her goal-scoring shot low to the back side past Chiavaro.
The hat trick by Fairow was just the third in Patriot League Tournament history as only Army’s Alexis Albano in 1993 and Navy’s Paloma Perez in 2012 had ever completed the task.
“Ash is a goal scorer,” remarked Gabarra. “They [the goals] really came for her tonight. In two of her goals, her teammates did a great job of getting her the right ball in the right spot to make things happen. She couldn’t have done what she did tonight without the build and the help from behind.”
Navy closed out the final six minutes without a blemish much to the pleasure of the boisterous home crowd.
For the game, Navy outshot Colgate, 15-11, with a 7-3 advantage in shots on goal. The Mids held a slim margin in corner kicks, 4-3.
In the shutout effort, her ninth individual blank sheet in 2017, Fortson, the Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year, made three saves. As a team, Navy has recorded 13 shutouts. That team total ranks fifth all-time in program history, tying the 2008 team.
The victory moves Navy into the Patriot League Championship Final on Sunday versus Bucknell, who eked out a 1-0 win over Boston University in the 87th minute of the second semifinal. The Mids and Bison met a week ago on Oct. 28 in Annapolis. Navy came out on top 2-1.
“We are prepared for Sunday,” said Gabarra. “We’ve put in all the hard work since August 1. This is a good group and they want to keep playing and to get another game. The Patriot League is a great league with a lot of parity. All four teams here are excellent so we’re excited for Sunday.”
The Mids and Bison will kick off at 12-noon on Sunday at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility. Navy is in search of its fourth Patriot League Tournament title, while Bucknell is the defending conference champion.