Navy Women's Soccer Defeated in Patriot League Finals, 3-2
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – In a matchup of the two best teams in the Patriot League, the fans at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility on Sunday were treated to an exciting Patriot League Women’s Soccer Championship Final that featured break-neck scoring throughout the first half and a furious comeback attempt by the host Navy women’s soccer team. When the final whistle blew, the second-seeded Bucknell Bison (12-8) came out on top of the top-seeded Navy Midshipmen (16-4-1) by a score of 3-2.
“Today was a good game and that was well played,” remarked head coach Carin Gabarra. “Our problem was that we created a lot of scoring chances, but didn’t finish well enough and they [Bucknell] have one heck of a goal scorer, who got the best of us right from the get-go. That put the pressure on us by scoring so early. Going down by three goals in the first half is hard to overcome, but we continued to battle and showed a lot of heart and fight today.”
The action on Sunday saw Bucknell jump out early on Navy as the visitors broke open the 0-0 game, just 88 seconds in as All-Patriot League First Team honoree, Kendall Ham headed home the first goal of the game off of an Ali Russo cross.
Taking on a Bison goalie in Theresa Adu-Attobrah, who was making her first career start after the team’s regular starter Dani Kaufman was injured in Friday night’s semifinal matchup versus Boston University, the Mids made a concerted effort to shoot early and often on the inexperienced keeper. That game plan nearly worked as just over a minute later Megan Rogers (Sr., Orange Park, Fla.) found herself open from 25 yards out and rocketed a shot on goal that required a leaping save by Adu-Attobrah to push the ball into the cross bar.
Navy continued pressuring Bucknell with three shots (one on goal) and two corner kicks over the next eight minutes. Unsuccessful in finding the early game-tying goal, the Mids fell down 2-0 at 11:56 when Ham found space and dribbled in from around midfield before finding the back of the net with a shot from 20 yards out.
With the score 2-0 both teams were still focused on offense and Bucknell nearly made it 3-0 at 20:39 with a shot on goal by Meghan Holtz, but fortunately for Navy, Rogers was holding the goal line and deflected the would-be score away from immediate danger. That deflection though resulted in a corner kick that turned into another goal as Karli Cirovski, a the All-Patriot League Second Team defender, took the ensuing set piece and placed the ball into the box for a Ham header at 21:05.
Realizing that the game was still young with 69 minutes left, Navy knew that it would need get a quick goal and start to turn the momentum back to its side. Team captain Clare MacAdam (Sr., Palmyra, N.J.) took that task on and answered Ham’s goal with a tally of her own six minutes later at 27:44. After the ball was played into the box by Navy’s midfield, a Bucknell clearing attempt left a loose ball for MacAdam to control and instant whip a one-time shot on goal into the left upper-90.
After a wild opening 45 minutes, the game went into halftime with the Bison holding a 3-1 advantage. The stats showed a tie in total shots at 9-9, though Bucknell put six of those shots on goal versus three for Navy.
In search of a goal to cut the deficit to one, Navy continued pushing the action into its offensive third. Over the opening five minutes, the team took two shots with Karli Sottung (Jr., Westfield, N.J.) just pushing her shot wide being the best opportunity. The lead-up to the shot was a well-crafted build as Emily Keast (Fr., Springfield, Va.) crossed the ball in from the right wing to Ash Fairow (Jr., Jacksonville, N.C.), who played it on to Sottung on the back side.
Another threatening scoring opportunity occurred less than 10 minutes later when Fairow fed Sottung in the box before the junior laid the ball towards MacAdam. A scrum ensued and danger was averted for Bucknell.
Navy finally found its second marker of the game at 64:05 when Alex Jackson (So., Centennial, Colo.) blasted a lengthy lead pass from beyond midfield into space for Fairow. Once the pass was successful retrieved by Fairow, the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, the junior forward darted towards goal and slotted a low shot by Adu-Attobrah for her 13th goal of the year. That mark ties Justine Fisher’s output during the 2000 season for eighth-most all-time in a single season.
The Mids desperately searched for that game-tying third goal over the final 26 minutes, but to no avail as the Bison withstood five corner kicks and four shots down the stretch.
“We didn’t execute like we needed to,” said Gabarra. “With 11 corners it’s rare for us to not get any goals off of that. We kept playing and playing and had chances, but we didn’t put them away. Bucknell was better than us in both the boxes today.”
In defeat, Navy outshot Bucknell, 17-11, though the Bison held a 6-4 margin in shots on goal. Navy ended the game with 11 corner kicks versus four for Bucknell.
In goal, Sydney Fortson (So., Claremont, Calif.) made two saves for the Mids.
After the game, Fairow, Rogers and Meghan Hegarty (Sr., Richmond, Va.) were named to the Patriot League All-Tournament Team. During the combined semifinal and final action this weekend, Fairow tallied a tournament record four goals and eight points.
Sunday’s loss marked the final collegiate action for Navy’s talented six-member Class of 2018. Together the collective group of captain Clare MacAdam, Natalie Dzhandzhapanyan, Liza Harris, Meghan Hegarty, Madeline Ostrowski and Megan Rogers combined to win 48 games with Patriot League Tournament victories in each and every season. Individually, the Class of 2018 attained 10 All-Patriot League playing honors. Led by MacAdam’s 28 goals and 18 assists, the six players helped Navy score 57 goals, while assisting on 56 over the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Individually, MacAdam’s career statline ranks number eight all-time in program history in both goals and total points (74).
“This is an incredibly impactful group of seniors,” remarked Gabarra. “They all have contributed a lot and shown excellent leadership. I thought we had a very good year of soccer, one of our best ones in a long time and that’s directly related to our seniors and how they led us both on and off the field. It’ll be hard to say goodbye to them, but I thought we had a really good season and will need to continue building and getting better as we move on in the future.”
Navy finishes its 2017 campaign with a 16-4-1 record and the Patriot League regular season title after going 8-0-1 in league play. The 16 wins tie the 2001, 2002 and 2013 clubs from the fifth-most wins in a single-season.