Women’s soccer torpedoes Navy
Brooke Steel’s goal powers the Eagles’ win
The game kicked off on a cool fall afternoon with newly red and orange trees overlooking Reeves Field. American’s attack started off aggressive and as they got a few shots off early. Navy matched that energy and was physical throughout the game. Sophomore defender Natalie Dowling was knocked down, drawing ire from the crowd, but got back up on her own to keep playing.
Sophomore midfielders Avery Klingensmith and Eliza Fisher each got shots off in the seventh minute of play, but their shots were blocked and wide, respectively. The Midshipmen sought their own chances, and finally got their first shot off 10 minutes in. Junior goalkeeper Julia Kato saved Navy’s shot easily, something fans would see plenty more of throughout the game.
The Eagles’ forwards made their mark on the game first with strong attack and shots, but the defenders made themselves seen as well. Junior defender Giuliana Capraro stood out, blocking a Navy shot opportunity and intercepting one of their passes near the American goal. Klingensmith continued to show up, earning the Eagles a corner kick after she outran a Midshipman for the ball. Senior forward Izzy Kadzban took the corner to the sound of American’s signature eagle screech. Nothing came of that particular kick, but it allowed the Eagles to keep pressure on Navy’s defense. The first half came to a close with no goals from either side thanks to two strong defensive performances.
As the second half revved up, it was once again the defense that starred. Capraro dove to the ground and blocked a Midshipman shot with her body, not even letting the ball reach Kato. The Eagle defense repeatedly lept into action to protect their goal. Junior forward Jennifer McGuire joined in on the fun when she stripped the ball from a Navy forward who was dangerously close to the goal. The Midshipmen sent one corner kick right in Kato’s arms, making her job easier.
Graduate student forward Fisayo Iluyomade shot the ball right over Navy’s goal, bringing the crowd to their feet and then groaning as they sat back down. Junior midfielder Brooke Steel delivered for them, scoring the first goal of the game in the 83rd minute to the roar of the American fans.
“That was the craziest feeling ever,” said Steel. “My whole team was shocked, we were fighting for that goal the entire time and I’m so excited that it happened.”
Navy forward Alexa Riddle, who had been very physical all game, kept the tensions high as she knocked freshman defender Bella Vozar to the ground for several minutes, earning a yellow card from the referees.
The time on the clock wound down, but neither team showed any sign of calming down. The Midshipmen had their best scoring chance of the game, but luckily Kato was there to keep the sheet clean. In the final minutes of the game, Steel connected with sophomore midfielder Phoebe Merrigan to send the ball up to Kadzban for the final shot of the game. The ball went wide left, but American finished the game with some much needed momentum.
With that, the Eagles defeated the Midshipmen for the first time since 2010 to earn their most Patriot League wins since 2013. The team has two contests remaining in the regular season, all of which are Patriot League matches. American, who did not make the Patriot League playoffs last season, are just barely in position to get there this year with their 3-3-1 conference record.
“From the freshmen up I think all of them know their capabilities and know the capabilities of their teammates around them, so they’re playing with this sort of synergy which is really cool to see on the field and also off in the locker room,” said head coach Marsha Harper. “We as a program have talked about one moment at a time. One game at a time, one training session at a time, so we’re focusing on obviously taking care of our bodies right now and then the next steps, getting ready and prepared.”
The Eagles face off next against the Boston University Terriers on Sunday, Oct. 21.
This article was edited by Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Olivia Citarella.