Women’s Soccer Finishes Two-Game Homestand With A Win and A Tie



by PETE JANNY, Asst. Sports Editor

The Manhattan College women’s soccer team (3-10-1, 2-4-1 MAAC) entered the stretch run of their season with two home games last week against Rider (7-3-4, 4-1-2 MAAC) and Siena (4-8-4, 2-3-2 MAAC) respectively.

Both games couldn’t have been different in terms of weather conditions and fan support. What mattered most was that the team was able to avoid adding another loss to their record, taking down Rider 3-1 on Wednesday afternoon and finishing with a 1-1 tie against Siena on Saturday afternoon.

Wednesday’s win over Rider almost didn’t happen because of a rainstorm that lingered for most of the game. Originally scheduled for 7 PM, both schools had no choice but to agree to play at 1:30 PM in order to miss the brunt of the storm. Despite the annoyance of the elements, the Jaspers showed up ready to play with the offense looking as sharp as ever. Goals by Bri DeLeo, Tia Painilainen, and Arianna Montefusco fueled the team’s winning effort.

On this day, it looked like the Jaspers were the ones currently sitting in third place in the MAAC standings and not the Broncs. Coming off a lackluster performance at Fairfield, the Jaspers did a nice job turning the page on that result by engineering what was arguably their best all-around performance of the season against the Broncs.

After a recent win over Iona, head coach Brendan Lawler said, “We have dynamic players who can get forward as a unit.” Those words certainly rang true against Rider as evidenced by the three goals the team scored. After establishing control in all facets of the game early, Manhattan proceeded to terrorize the Rider defense often.

After a few early chances to break through, DeLeo gave her team the lead in the 22nd minute off a rebound opportunity following a shot on net by sophomore Eve Montgomery. This was only the beginning of a prosperous afternoon for the Manhattan offense.

Following a first half in which the Jaspers outshot the Broncs 8-4, Manhattan made sure not take their foot of the gas.

The team extended their lead to 2-0 by virtue of a point-blank finish from Painilainen in the 63rd minute. The build up to the goal goal featured a chain of passes that saw the ball go from junior Alexa Chapman to classmate Lindsay Healy before ending up at the feet of Painilainen for the goal.

Down but not out, Rider retaliated with a goal in the 70th minute to keep themselves in striking distance. Hailey Russell did the honors for the Broncs on an opportunity made possible by a feed from Cameron Sanders.

Unfortunately for Rider, there was no way Montefusco was letting her team’s inspiring performance go to waste. After stealing the ball away from Rider in the 87th minute, Montefusco deposited a shot in the back of the net from 30 yards out to effectively quash any hopes Rider had of coming back.

Manhattan’s win was fueled by unselfish play with all three of the goals stemming from assists. Montgomery earned her second assist of the season thanks to DeLeo’s goal, while Chapman and Healy were both credited for their first assists of the season on Painilainen’s goal.

By the time the final horn sounded, Manhattan owned a narrow 14-11 advantage in shots. However, this was not the best indicator of the narrative of the game with Manhattan looking in control for most of the game.

The Jaspers looked to stay in the win column when Siena came to Gaelic Park this past Saturday. Before the game, the program honored all seven of the seniors on the team during a pregame ceremony on the field. With great crowd support behind them, the Jaspers battled hard for the full 110 minutes of action, but had to settle for a tie. A win would’ve been the appropriate outcome for an emotional senior day, but the Jaspers still did many things well that will benefit them moving forward.

The opening minutes of the game were characterized by a few chances for Siena. Conversely, the Manhattan offense was nowhere to be found out of the gate.

Eight minutes in, Siena’s Carrie Krohn fired a cross into the box from the left side that gave way to a soft one-time shot from Amber Alfonzo that was easily corralled by Manhattan senior goalie Olivia Printy. A minute later, Siena gave Manhattan a scare when an errant pass from freshman Kaitlyn Cooke found its way to Alfonzo at the top of the box whose volley shot hit off the crossbar. Manhattan was a bit lucky to come out of this sloppy stretch of play unscathed. Little did anyone know at the time that Siena would fail to produce another shot for the rest of the half.

It would take Manhattan 22 minutes before registering their first shot on goal. The shot came off the foot of sophomore Kaitlyn Hogan from about 30 yards out that caused no trouble for the goalie. Although there was virtually no chance of it going in, it was encouraging to see Hogan try to invigorate her team with her aggressiveness. Two minutes later, junior Shelby Jones introduced herself to the Siena backline with a respectable attempt from way outside the box that sailed wide right of the net. From that point forward, Jones impressed with the way she passed the ball and fought for loose balls.

As the first half progressed, it was clear that the Jaspers were starting to dominate in all facets. Unsurprisingly, it was Montefusco and classmate Painilainen who helped lead the charge.

In the 32nd minute, Montefusco got a head on a ball off a free kick that forced the Siena goalie to make a diving stop. Four minutes later, Painilainen threatened when she beat a defender on the right side of the box before trying her luck with a shot that went high of the net to prolong the hunt for the game’s opening goal. The offensive excitement would later culminate with a big chance for Montefusco with 17 seconds left that saw her power s shot over the goal.

All in all, it was a commendable first-half showing from Manhattan who outshot their opponent 13-5 for the half. The moderate success the team had on the attack was a preview for more offensive entertainment.

The Jaspers got off to a fast start in the second half with offensive stalwarts Eve Montgomery and Lindsay Healy leading the charge.

Seven minutes in, Healy and Montgomery recorded shots on goal in quick succession of one another to put their team on the verge of taking the first lead. It all started thanks to the effervescence of Healy. Flying down the right side, Healy eluded a defender to give herself enough time to attempt a shot in the lower right corner of the box that was blocked by the goalie. In the right position at the right time, Montgomery obtained the ball at the top box and let one fly herself that was countered with a diving save by the goalie to give Manhattan a corner. Time and time again have both Healy and Montgomery parlayed their athletic prowess to create offensive opportunities for their team. Expect that trend to continue with the MAAC season entering the stretch run.

As for Siena, their offense bounced back after being non-existent for a good portion of the first half. Manhattan senior Camryn Nici replaced Printy in net at the half and was subject to a slew of Siena shots.

In the 58th minute, Nici made a big save off a shot from Krohn at the top of the box to keep the team’s clean sheet intact. It appeared Krohn didn’t connect with the ball as cleanly as she could have or else the shot may have even been more problematic. Five minutes later, Nici passed another test when a high ball was shot on net in which Nici responded to by simply tipping the ball over the net. It was a smart play by the battle-tested veteran. Over her 65 minutes of playing time between the second half and both overtime periods, Nici registered six saves on her senior day

In need of more offensive contributions, the Jaspers turned back to Montefusco and Painilainen.

The junior classmates showed nice chemistry on a sequence that started with a nice pass from Montefusco to Painilainen on the right side. Upon gaining possession, Painilainen quickly sent the ball back into the box leading to a volley attempt for Montefusco that went over the net. Despite the fruitless outcome, it was a play that typified the mutual trust both players have in each other.

After Siena’s Rachel Sullivan hit the crossbar in the 74th minute, Manhattan responded in the 79th minute with the game’s opening goal. Manhattan seemed to have caught Siena off guard on the play. After Painilainen made a direct pass to sophomore Olivia Maldonado off a corner kick, Maldonado sent in a dangerous ball into the box that found its way to the feet of Montefusco for her seventh goal of the season. It was a feel-good moment that sent the crowd into a frenzy.

Now up 1-0, the game was Manhattan’s to lose. Much to the chagrin of almost everyone in attendance, Siena would go on to equalize just over a minute later with Krohn doing the honors. The score was made possible by Deanna Lomino who picked out Krohn on the left side of the box for the finish. If there was any one to blame for the goal, it certainly wasn’t Nici. The chances of her coming up with a save off a shot from such a close distance were very slim. Much credit goes to Siena for the way they responded to the Manhattan goal. That equalizer changed the complexion of the game and sucked the life right out of the Gaelic Park crowd.

Overtime was a slog for both teams with neither side coming particularly close to scoring. Both teams looked tired over the final 20 minutes of play and were probably happy to settle for a tie.

Over the last 65 minutes of play including both overtime periods, Siena outshot Manhattan 11-9. However, Manhattan outpaced the visitors in total by a 22-16 count.

Manhattan’s next two contests will come on the road at Quinnipiac and Marist, respectively. The first of the two games will take place on Wednesday, October 23rd at 2:30 with the latter set for Saturday, October 26th at 5 PM.