By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
The smattering of faithful St. Bonaventure fans who braved the cold, rainy elements to watch their Bona women’s soccer team play Rhode Island into overtime on Thursday night were rewarded by the boot of senior forward Lauren Hill.
Hill broke the 3-3 deadlock eight minutes into the extra period off a cross from fellow senior Abby Maiello. The goal, which gave Bonaventure its first Atlantic 10 conference win, was Hill’s second of the game and sixth on the year.
Bonaventure coach Steve Brdarski knew the implications of sudden death, which made the win all the more sweet.
“You go back to the USA-Mexico (men’s) game on Saturday; (there was) heartbreak in the 118th minute, but the U.S. still had time,” recalled Brdarski. “You know stepping on the field (in college), you have no time- if the other team scores, it’s over.”
The Bonnies spent much of the first half in the attacking third, but it was the Rams who struck first when Amanda Nardella headed in a free kick from Katrin Gylfadottir in the 15th minute.
SBU answered back right away, however, when Maiello collected the cross from senior midfielder Stephanie Jenkins and was able to convert just a minute later.
“The way we battled back after Rhode Island’s first goal made me very proud,” said Brdarski. “We fought, we attacked, and we did well facing the adversity.”
The 1-1 score the sides went into halftime with didn’t last very long. Three minutes into the second half, Hill was able to put the ball into the back of the net after a shot off the post to give the Bonnies a 2-1 advantage.
Despite Bonaventure’s upper hand, the Rams kept fighting back. Goals from Taylor Ross and Ari Stanton shifted the seesaw game back in the Rhody’s favor, giving them a 3-2 lead with 30 minutes left.
Three goals in a collegiate soccer game is usually enough to win the game; the brown and white entered the game 0-2 when their opponent scored that many goals or more. In this contest, the Bona women broke the status quo in the 70th minute when Maiello registered her second score to knot the game and send it to its eventual overtime.
In OT, the Bonnies missed out on several chances before Hill and Maiello teamed up to send the fans home happy. After two overtimes earlier in the season ended in unsatisfying draws and one against George Washington ended in defeat, the heroics were a long time coming.
A berth in the Atlantic 10 tournament is still very much in sight. Despite the 0-4 start in conference play, the women have shown resiliency in answering the call.
“A lot of teams would’ve packed it up a long time ago,” Brdarski said. “But our girls understand that you have to defend home field. I think they take pride in that, and when we grab the momentum and play strong in all elements of the game, you can’t count us out.”
Brdarski’s biggest fan after the game may have been Tim Kenney, his athletic director. Kenney gleefully embraced his coach and congratulated him on the victory, to which Brdarski replied, “We needed that one. We needed that one.” They sure did.