PAT LONGOBARDI — Sports Writer
While the SCSU women’s soccer team was ready to honor their 2011 graduating class on Senior Night, the Owls had other business to take care of as well; to try and beat rival St. Rose for the first time in seven years.
An early second half goal proved to be the difference in the 52nd minute as No. 16 St. Rose defeated Southern, 2-1, at Jess Dow Field.
The Owls honored the 2011 class—Flavia Bernardes, Alison Ditolla, Hannah Hatch, Erica Leber and Jenna Mallico, and graduate Jacquelyn Fede—prior to the game.
St. Rose (15-1-1, 9-0-1 NE-10) wasted no time after getting a free kick in the third minute after a foul was called on Brooke Madura for tripping Carmelina Puopolo.
Senior Christina Cuffari was elected to take the kick and capitalized for her fifth goal of the year to take the 1-0 lead. Her shot sailed high and just out of the reach of Southern’s goalie, Fede.
St. Rose played stellar defense in the game, not letting Southern into their territory very often. They also had their fast tempo offense, sped up possession and outshot Southern 17-7 in the game.
“We worked hard,” said Ditolla, Southern’s co-captain. “We tried our best. Maybe it won’t be my last home game—hopefully.”
Southern (10-4-2, 8-4-2 NE-10) found their moment in the 30th minute when sophomore Suzane Pires (Sao Paulo, Brazil) tied the game 1-1 with her team-leading fifth goal of the season.
Madura sailed a 30-yard pass to Pires from the right side, setting up a kick past goalie Jessica Gerski to right side of the net.
The Owls had their next-best scoring opportunities when they caught the defense offguard in the final minutes of the first half.
In the 44th minute, Madura took a free kick that almost set up another goal.
Madura fired one to Leber in front of the net who was looking to score her first goal of the season, but the shot sailed high over the net. Southern then took a corner kick as the half wound down when Madura kicked to Kylie Rogers, but her shot was stopped by Gerski to the right side.
“We adjusted our shape and positioning at halftime,” St. Rose head coach Laurie Darling Gutheil said. “In the last 15 minutes [of the first half], they stretched us out. We were able to get possessions and isolate players.”
In the second half Saint Rose controlled momentum after an early goal by senior Brittany Godin, her seventh of the year, in the 52nd minute.
Puopolo drove the ball to the bottom of the field, and then fired to the front of the net where St. Rose players were positioned and Godin’s shot eventually hit the crossbar and dropped in.
Southern’s last chances came on late free kick by Stephanie Santos, but the Owls could not get into the net.
This was Southern’s first loss at home in nine games dating back to last season (7-1-1). The Owls were 0-3-1 in their last four games.
Cuffari led St. Rose with seven shots, three on goal. Gerski, a senior, allowed one goal while making five saves in 90 minutes of play. Pires led Southern with two shots, both on goal.