Champions Again: Women’s Soccer Defeats Gordon for CCC Title

The Roger Williams University women’s soccer team embraces each other on the field as they clinched their third CCC title in the last four years with a 1-0 victory over Gordon College on Nov. 4.

Tyger Allen, Herald Reporter

The women’s soccer team earned their spot in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championship after a thrilling 1-0 victory over Western New England University on Wednesday, Nov. 1.

The Hawks scored a second half goal that put them in the lead and kept the Golden Bears out of their defensive zone for the remainder of the game.

Their new opponent, Gordon College’s Fighting Scots, went in to top-seeded Endicott College on Wednesday as the fourth-seed in the tournament. Endicott scored the first goal of the game, but Gordon tied it up with 12 minutes remaining in the game. In overtime, the Fighting Scots’ leading scorer, Lexi Potter, scored her ninth goal of the season, pushing Gordon to the championship.

“They beat us last year unexpectedly and after going through that we knew how we couldn’t take anything for granted and had to give everything we got until the last second,” said junior Raleigh LeMiere-Barnes.

These two teams have created some history over the past three seasons, and this will be the second championship meeting between them in the past three years. The Hawks won the regular season matchup this year, but only by a score of 1-0.

Gordon started goalkeeper Kali Denty, who played in all nine in-conference games for the Fighting Scots. In those nine games, she gave up nine goals for a Goals Against Average (GAA) of 1.00. In the postseason, Denty made 11 stops on 13 shots-on-goal and helped her team get to the final with timely stops.

The Hawks stayed with their starting goalkeeper Natalie O’Donovan, who allowed just six goals in the team’s nine in-conference regular season games for a GAA of 0.67 on the year. In the playoffs, O’Donovan has allowed just one goal of the eleven shots that were on net. With help from a strong defense, the Hawks have kept their opponent’s scoring chances low.

On Saturday afternoon, the Hawks took the field wearing their checker-patterned white and yellow jerseys. After a back-and-forth start to the game, neither team was able to score before the half. The Hawks and Fighting Scots landed two shots on goal each, but the goalkeepers saved both.

On one scoring chance in the second half, the ball found its way to the middle where, amongst a crowd, one Hawk was shoved down, drawing a free kick a few yards outside of the 18-yard box. Sophomore Alli Santacroce placed the ball for her kick and took a few steps back. She paused and waited for her teammates to get into a position to knock in a deflection, then ran toward the motionless ball. As her foot made contact, the ball’s arc was short, but the shot was fast enough to tear through the Gordon defense and into the far side of the net, giving the Hawks the 1-0 lead.

Gordon — now feeling the pressure — needed to come back fast. In the 71st minute, the Fighting Scots found themselves with a golden opportunity when they had a clear shot from about 15 yards away, but a diving Natalie O’Donovan kept her shutout in tact.

Just like the semifinal game, as the clock wound down, the Hawks cleared the ball downfield every time they came in contact with it. This strategy proved to work again as the final whistle blew, giving the Hawks their third conference championship in four years.

“It felt amazing to redeem ourselves,” said senior Samantha Woznicki. “We didn’t do anything too different to prepare. We played every playoff game as if it could be our last and we wanted to leave everything we had on the field every time.”

As conference play comes to an end, the Hawks will be advancing to the N.C.A.A. tournament on Nov. 11.

“We’re preparing for [the N.C.A.A. tournament] first by recovering and physically being ready to play,” said junior Jenny Nasser. “Then, we will have a full week of practices before we travel to wherever we’re going.”