After a closely competitive first half, the Manhattan women’s soccer team capitalized on their multiple offensive chances and took a 1-0 victory after Aislinn McIlvenny scored her fourth goal of the season to power the Jaspers past the Lafayette Leopards. Coming off of a tough 1-0 loss to URI in overtime, the Jaspers scored early in the second half to take the lead and ultimately the win.
With their season now at 3-2, the Jaspers are off to their best start since 2008.
During the first half, Lafayette maintained significant pressure. However, Manhattan was able to hold them from scoring and get some great offensive chances of their own. The next step was to capitalize on these chances. Some went off the crossbar; others were saved by Lafayette’s goalie Danielle Sedillo.
“We have to put them away as quickly as possible,” senior forward Kaelyn Angelo said. “We need to get in there and get a little stronger. Our attack did an excellent job on creating those chances, we just have to put them away.”
Despite the various opportunities, the Jaspers needed that extra step and that didn’t happen in the first half. One great chance came about 20 minutes into the game. Carly Perry took a corner kick and then Lauren Barton placed it on goal. Sedillo blocked it but McIlvenny had the rebound. She had two attempts but the score remained zero.
“We were sometimes hesitant to shoot,” senior midfielder Shannon Garritty said. “We were getting a lot of opportunities, but I think we have to shoot more.”
Communication is key during these instances in a game and the Jaspers were strong throughout. Whether it was between the coaches and players on the field, the goalie to the players, or players to each other, the Jaspers communicated well and got the job done.
“As long as we have that strong foundation,” Angelo said, “we’re pretty solid throughout the game.”
While Lafayette maintained heavier pressure, especially in the first half, the Jaspers kept their composure and had a strong defensive game. Goalie Kristen Skonieczny earned her second shutout win of the season and had four saves in the game.
“We just kept playing our game,” Garritty said. “There were times when we started playing the ball like them but at halftime we talked about strategy and how we need to calm down. I think we did that more in the second half.”
“It’s strict communication,” Angelo said. “We always have to be on top of the march running through and keeping everything tight.”
There were some debatable calls from the referees throughout the game. Some were on Manhattan’s side and some were not. No matter what call it was, the Jaspers didn’t lose composure and continued to play strongly.
“It’s 50/50. We’re either going to get the call or not,” Angelo said. “When you don’t, you have to keep playing and keep your head up.”
“You know that it’s part of the game,” Garritty said. “You can’t dwell on anything.”
Some important chances the Jaspers were given were the offensive corners. They had two in the first half, which might have given them an earlier lead. In addition, they had another one in the second half that could have given them a greater lead. In the end, however, they were able to maintain their defensive pressure.
“Those are great offensive chances,” Garritty said, “ and we need to convert on them.”
After scoring early in the second half, the Jaspers were left with the tough job of defending their lead. Of course teams want to score first and lead the game, but that puts more pressure on them to keep the lead and defensively hold their opponents.
“It’s definitely tough,” Angelo said, “but you have to stay compact or composed. We can’t let anything silly happen in the backline. We have to just be strong, communicate well and take care of business.”
“It’s a little nerve-wracking,” Garritty said, “knowing you have the lead and have to keep it. It just gives us even more motivation to work hard and maintain that lead.”
The defense has been strong throughout the season. In regulation, they haven’t given up a goal since early in their win against Binghamton.
“We’re already improving a lot,” Garritty said, ”but that can only keep going. We can convert on more offensive chances and I definitely think we’ll get more wins this season.”