Women’s soccer ties with Ohio Valley

Marco Cicchino, Staff writer

Just three goals allowed, but only two scored. That’s how it happens in soccer sometimes.  But a defense-heavy 1-all draw with Ohio Valley on Sept. 9 at Mercyhurst soccer field resulted in the women’s soccer team’s second-straight draw.

Despite continuing their strong defense from last season, the players are left in the cellar of the conference at this early juncture of the season.  “We could’ve done much better,” said Jinan Abdalah, 2016’s leading scorer for the Lakers. “It was definitely not our best performance and we know that our potential as a team is much greater.” Just 11:29 into this contest the Lakers scored their first first-half goal and took their first lead in this still young season.  Abdalah was responsible for the goal, her first tally of the season. Abdalah caught a pass at midfield and ran down the right sideline to beat Kimberly Mora for an early 1-0 advantage.

The Fighting Scots had several fantastic opportunities throughout the first half, but the Lakers’ Vilde Wold — who won the starting goalkeeper job in training camp — accounted for five saves, including two on long balls. Wold kept the Fighting Scots at bay throughout the first half.  “They are a team with a lot of experience. Most of their starters come from the same background,” said Abdalah.

But like the season-opener last Saturday in East Stroudsburg, Wold lost her shutout within the first 25 minutes of the second. A Laker foul handed the Scots a 12-meter free kick, from which they turned into a score.  Iona Rothfeld of the Scots found Laura Jimenez off the shot and beat Wold with a header off to the left to equalize the contest 65 minutes in.

Jimenez’s shot was one of only four shots on goal against Wold in the second half and seven for the entire match.  Ten minutes later, Jimenez — whose Scots (2-0-1) have looked much better this season than their last-place Greater Midwest Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll standing would indicate — was booked for a hit.  However, Mora made two saves in the final 15 minutes to force overtime, where Wold responded with two critical saves in both minute 93 and 94.  The teams exchanged strong midfield play in the second overtime to confirm the final tally, 1-1.

The Lakers (0-1-2) return to action Sept. 16. They will host West Chester for a 4 p.m. showdown up at the Mercyhurst soccer field.  “West Chester is a very strong and physically fit team,” said Abdalah. “It’s going to be a great challenge, but I also think we are ready for it. We play them at home so we hope Lakers come out and support.”