Cambridge, Mass. - November 9, 2013 - The Springfield College women's soccer team is headed back to the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) finals after a 2-1 win over Wheaton in the conference semifinals on Saturday at MIT.
In a rematch of last year's NEWMAC final, third-seeded Springfield (13-4-3) used a late second half goal from Ashley Carresi (Billerica, Mass.) to top second-seeded Wheaton (14-6-2).
Carresi came up with a timely steal, then broke away from several defenders down the center of the field and buried a shot into the upper right corner for the go-ahead goal in the 70th minute. From then on, the Pride defense was stellar.
With just under 10 minutes to play, Lucy Gillett (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) made a tremendous save off a Wheaton corner kick to preserve the lead. The Pride defense played especially tough down the stretch, stopping two-straight Wheaton corner kicks. Brooke Hattinger (Weymouth, Mass.) made a big save with just under six minutes to play, clearing the corner before the Wheaton offense could make a play.
The Pride will take on top-seeded MIT on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. at Rogers Field in the NEWMAC Championship. Springfield topped MIT, 1-0 during the regular season.
Springfield is the defending NEWMAC Champion, beating Wheaton in last years final on penalty kicks. Sunday's championship will be the sixth-straight NEWMAC finals appearance for the Pride. Springfield took home three NEWMAC titles in the last five years, winning in 2012, 2010 and 2008.
The Pride came out firing from the opening whistle, as Nina Vital (Ludlow, Mass.) got Springfield on the board early, just 5:45 into the game. Nicole Fowler's (Maynard, Mass.) flip throw landed perfectly in the middle of the box for Vital, who chipped it over the Wheaton goalkeeper, grazing the bottom of the crossbar and into the goal for a quick 1-0 lead.
Wheaton tied the game at a goal apiece in the 23rd minute. Julia Cipriano (Middlebury, Conn.) took a shot that was redirected and ended up trickling into the goal.
Gillett made one save in goal for Springfield while Wheaton's Taylor Wilson (Bellingham, Mass.) had six. The two teams each had 11 shots in the game, while Wheaton held a 5-1 edge in corner kicks.
Vicky DiNatale (Weymouth, Mass,) and Kelly Haines (Easton, Conn.) both made big stops defensively in the second half, helping to hold Wheaton to just a goal.
MIT topped Babson on penalty kicks in the other NEWMAC semifinal on Saturday.