Freshmen help Eagles topple LIU Brooklyn 2-0 in first home victory

In its first five outings of the season, the AU women’s soccer team struggled offensively, managing only three goals total. However, against LIU Brooklyn, the Eagles offense came out in full force with freshmen midfielder JoJo Miller and forward Madie Light tallying goals in AU’s first home victory of the season.

AU tested the LIU Brooklyn defense early and often before finally breaking through it’s backline late in the second half to secure a 2-0 victory Sunday at Reeves Field. Miller put the Eagles in front with a looping effort in the 74th minute and Light added the insurance goal just several minutes later.

The Eagles (2-4, 0-0 PL) managed 16 shots on goal, challenging Blackbirds keeper Jessica Montrose from all angles.

“I think we should have put them away in the first half, but we were patient in the final third, which was an improvement from the games before,” head coach Anabel Hering said. “It was good to get the win and get some good goals in the second half.”

AU commanded the pace of play for the majority of the game but struggled to put away several golden chances early. Freshman forward Yari Bradfield took the first shot on goal with strong left-footed effort that rattled off the frame of the goal in the ninth minute. Sophomore forward Kaylee Hillard recorded another attempt minutes later when her toe-poke from Bradfield’s flick-on pass bounced off the post as well. Light and senior midfielder Kelly Donovan both had close-range efforts saved by Montrose, who recorded eight saves for the Blackbirds (2-3, 0-0 Northeast Conference).

The Eagles switched formations at the start of the second half in attempt to generate more offense. They created additional width to spread out the Blackbirds, who had ten players behind the ball in defense the majority of the game. AU’s fresh game strategy proved successful when freshman defender Bruna Gomes centered a ball from the flank to Miller, whose effort from twenty yards dipped just underneath the crossbar to give the Eagles the lead.

“[You’ve got to] take the risk, because you never know what can happen on those long shots. I just tried to hit it cleanly and stay composed,” Miller said.

Light provided an additional goal for the Eagles after the she dribbled past two defenders and saw her powerful shot sting the hands of Montrose before bouncing over the goal line. The officials temporarily allowed play to continue before awarding the goal after confirming the ball had crossed into the goal.

“I think it’s something we’ve been focusing on, not even as individuals, but as a team getting more shots on goal. I was just happy I was able to contribute,” Light said.

In addition to controlling possession of the game offensively, the Eagles also recorded their first shutout of the season. Fifth-year senior goalkeeper Charlene Belanger went untested for long stretches of the game but provided three key saves to keep the Blackbirds off the score sheet.

The Eagles hope to build upon their win as they prepare a three-game road starting at Howard University on Friday, Hering said.

“[We] still want to be a little more precise and patient in the final third, even though we were good today,” Hering said. “But overall, our possession was good, our team defending was good, so we’re just looking to build off that.”

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