Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Elms College women's soccer team used an overtime penalty kick from sophomore Kelsey Shea (Belchertown, Mass.) to defeat visiting Southern Vermont College, 1-0 on Senior Day, in a New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) battle at Leary Field Saturday afternoon. With the win, the Blazers improve to 12-2-1 overall, and 6-0 in the NECC, while Southern Vermont moves to 7-5-2 on the season, and 4-2 in league play.
Prior to the match, Elms honored their six departing seniors: Sevonnah LaRochelle (Chicopee, Mass.), Kaeleigh Dowe (Somers, Conn.), Meeghan O'Connor (Fall River, Mass.), Rachel Connell (Easthampton, Mass.), Rachel Mick (Granby, Mass.), and Kathleen Tuechler (Farmingdale, N.Y.) for their hard work and dedication to the Elms College Women's Soccer program.
"There's so much to say about this senior class, some have been her for one or two years, some for all four, and they all have a story," said Elms Head Coach Sean Milbier. "The main thing about all six of them is they've overcome adversity, whether it's Kat coming back from two knee surgeries, Meeghan having leg surgeries, Rachel [Connell] battling Crohn's disease, or Rocky [Mick] coming in as a transfer and fitting in right away, it's just a special group and they will definitely be missed.
The Blazers controlled possession throughout the match, but a strong defensive effort from Southern Vermont would keep the Elms off the scoreboard during regulation. The Blazers had chances in the second half, but Mountaineers junior goalkeeper Melissa Mascari (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) made a pair of diving saves on shots from junior Angelina Estrada (Springfield, Mass.) and Shea. The sides went to overtime knotted in a scoreless tie.
Less than three minutes into the bonus period, Elms junior Brie Voight (Springfield, Mass.) pursued a ball towards the goal line, and turned back towards the front of the net, but was taken down by a Mountaineers defender in the box, resulting in a penalty kick for the Blazers. On the ensuing attempt, Shea placed a shot past the diving effort of Mascari to send Elms to the 1-0 victory.
The Blazers dominated the shot column, 28-0, during the contest. Molin registered her 11th shutout of the season, matching the program record for shutouts in a season, set by Shannon Donnelly in 2005. Mascari matched a season-high with 17 saves for Southern Vermont in the loss.
With the win, Milbier reached the 50-win plateau in his career, and becomes the program's all-time leader in coaching wins in just his fourth season at the helm.
"I felt like we played really well today and dominated possession," said Milbier. "We moved the ball better today than we have all year. I give [Southern Vermont] a lot of credit, they came in with a gameplan and it worked well for them, but I'm proud of the effort and resiliency we showed. We were looking for that last pass to get in closer to the goal, but I give [Mascari] credit, she's a very good goalie. For most teams, that game ends in a 0-0 tie, but with our team, we didn't want to leave with a tie on our field on Senior Day, so I'm very proud of the resilience showed today. Kesley [Shea] is just a sophomore, but she's as calm as they come. She doesn't get too high on the highs, or too low on the lows, she's steady and consistent, and has become our big time penalty kick taker. Bay Path has become a bit of a rival for us. They have a new coach, and they're having a good year. It will be another tough test, I'm sure it will be a similar game plan to today, so we'll have to be ready."
The Blazers will look to remain in the win column when they host Bay Path in NECC action at Leary Field Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. Southern Vermont hosts Becker in a NECC battle Tuesday at 3:00 p.m.