PAT LONGOBARDI — Sports Writer
After losing two in a row—both on the road—the SCSU women’ s soccer team returned home to the confines of Jess Dow Field with conference tournament implications still in play coming into the final week of the season.
The Owls were 6-0 at home this season and are ranked No. 5 in the NCAA and NSCAA east regions.
After an eventful game that saw both teams have good scoring opportunities, 110 minutes was not enough as Southern and No. 15-ranked Merrimack played to a 0-0 tie after two overtimes.
“I thought the performance was very good,” head coach Adam Cohen said. “We have very creative play and we were just a little unfortunate. We just could not find the back of the net.
Southern (10-3-2, 8-3-2 NE-10) limited Merrimack to much of nothing in the first half, holding them to one shot, nine total. Southern had eight shots in the half, 16 total.
In the 37th minute, senior Flavia Bernardes found an open Kylie Rogers up the middle of two defenders for a shot, but it was saved by goalie Kiley Horne.
Out of the limited chances, Merrimack (13-2-1, 8-3-1) almost made up for it with two goals.
In the middle of the first half, sophomore Sami Brady received a good pass and was all alone in Southern territory looking for a score, but her kick took a spin away from the net.
In the 40th minute, freshman Gabriela Vega made a pass to an open sophomore Danielle Dion on the left side preparing for a shot. Southern goalie Jacquelyn Fede sprinted and scooped up the ball before any damage could be done.
“I think the flow was good,” Southern senior Jenna Mallico said. “We did not get the results that we wanted, but it will come. I was pleased with the effort.”
Both teams were pretty even in the second half with multiple scoring chances in a very physical half.
In the 57th minute, Brady was given a yellow card after a late hit on Sarah Brochu following a kick; she would remain in the game.
Southern had their golden opportunity in the 56th minute after being awarded a penalty kick when Bernardes was tripped inside the box by Jessica Peacock.
Suzane Pires was elected to take the shot, but her low kick was saved by Horne to the left side, sparking the entire Merrimack bench out of their seats.
Merrimack countered in the 83rd minute with a two-on-one near the Southern net, but the pass to Dion was intercepted when Brooke Madura showed her quick defense, blocking a pass with a header.
In the 86th minute, freshman Hannah Spreckley found Mallico for a nice pass up the middle near the net, but that extra second gave Merrimack time to deflect the shot.
In the overtime periods, both teams tightened up and did not let much into either zone, only getting three overall shots per team.
“We will go forward with the good things we did today,” Cohen said.
Dion led Merrimack with four shots, three on goal. Pires led Southern with six shots, two on goal. Mallico had four shots, two on goal.
Fede recorded her 12th shutout of the season with five saves in 110 minutes. Horne, a senior, recorded her seventh shutout of the season with seven saves in 110 minutes.
Merrimack defeated Southern last season, 1-0, after a first half goal in North Andover, Mass. Southern is 6-7-1 all-time against Merrimack.