RYAN IANNI — Staff Writer
Coming into their Northeast-10 quarterfinal home matchup against the Stonehill Skyhawks, the fourth seeded girl’s soccer team had every reason to feel confident that they could pull out a victory and advance onwards.
However, the Owls fell to a 3-2 loss, ending their season after some questionable calls by the one person on the field who should attempt to be invisible: the referee.
“This was a really good team this year,” said junior midfielder Suzane Pires. “I thought we could have gone really far.”
Southern started the game with a dominant display of possession. However, this didn’t translate into any solid scoring chances for the Owls, as a bad bounce of the ball undid the solid Southern defense for the opening goal.
A long-ball from Stonehill in the 15th minute came towards junior defender Lisamarie Tarchini who attempted to clear it. The ball had other plans, as it rolled off Tarchini’s foot into the path of forward Sarah Hickey, who only had to flick the ball lightly past keeper Jacquelyn Fede for the 1-0 advantage.
“We needed to play with more composure overall,” said Fede.
Despite the goal, SCSU continued to apply pressure, and it paid off in the 29th minute, as a foul against Southern set up a free kick, which freshman midfielder Stephanie Santos stepped up to take.
The driven ball bounced off several players in the box and fell kindly to Pires, who took a swift shot and put it in the net for the tying goal.
“I just saw the ball come to me, and I went for it,” said Pires.
Neither team would threaten for the rest of the half as it ended 1-1.
Once the two teams stepped onto the field for the second half, they did not realize that a third team was about to join as well: the ref.
The second half didn’t pick up until the 57th minute when Stonehill’s Hickey won the ball in SCSU’s half. She played the ball for what clearly appeared to be an offside to defender Sara Nagle. The offside wasn’t called, however and Nagle put it in for the 2-1 lead.
The referee then came to the center of attention in the 71st minute when a Stonehill corner kick was taken. The ball was sent in, with no one winning it; and then the whistle blew.
The ref pointed to the penalty spot for no apparent call.
“It was definitely a questionable call,” said Fede.
Catie Kelly stepped up and just barely beat the outstretched Fede to make it a 3-1 game.
Two minutes later, the Owls pulled one back. Pires sent an inch-perfect pass in the box towards Santos, who got the smallest touch on the ball. The ball never hit the ground and was cleared by Stonehill, but it apparently crossed the entire goal line. This was yet another questionable call by the referee, which Stonehill vehemently protested, only this time it was in Southern’s favor.
SCSU would only have one more threatening shot from senior Jenna Mallico, whose shot smashed off the crossbar and out. The final whistle blew, ending Southern’s tournament and season.
“I think the girls did everything they possibly could to win tonight,” said head coach Adam Cohen.
Despite ending the season earlier than they hoped the team still ended with a winning record and a record-setting number of shutouts in a single season.
“We made some strides,” said Cohen of his team’s season. “I think we’re really going in the right direction. I think every time you’re in a game like this you give the players a chance to learn what it’s like to win meaningful games.”