Courtesy of Western Connecticut Sports Information
DANBURY, CT – Senior Kelsey Chacho (Plainville, CT) pounced on a rebound with only nine seconds remaining in the first overtime period, giving the Western Connecticut State University women’s soccer team a thrilling 1-0 victory over Keene State College in the championship game of this year’s Little East Conference tournament Saturday afternoon at the Westside Athletic Complex. With the victory, the Colonials earn an automatic bid to this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Five minutes into the first half, Western was awarded back to back corner kicks which were taken by junior Celia DeVoe (Farmington, CT). On the second attempt, DeVoe’s kick from the right corner traveled across the face of the goal and was quickly settled by sophomore Autumn Sorice (Bethel, CT). Sorice’s quick shot rebounded off the Keene State keeper and resulted in two more rapid fire shots from sophomore Andrea DeVoe (Farmington, CT)and junior Emily Newhard (Wallingford, CT) within a few feet of the goal line. None of the Western attempts managed to cross the goal line and the score remained 0-0.
Keene State’s first scoring chance came with ten minutes played when Western’s keeper handled the ball just outside the right side of the box and the Owls were awarded a direct kick. Sophomore Taylor Farland (Fiskdale, MA) delivered a low pass through the box, but it sailed through the crowd of players and rolled harmlessly out of bounds, keeping the game scoreless.
At the midway point of the first half, Western held a 10-1 advantage in shots, but the scoreboard still read 0-0.
With four minutes remaining in the half, Keene State junior Rebecca Costello (Meriden, CT) recovered a loose ball just outside the eighteen meter line even with left post of Western’s goal. Her high arcing shot appeared to beat Western’s keeper, sophomore Jillian Fernandez (Columbia, CT), but Fernandez timed her leap perfectly and redirected the ball just outside the right post. At the half, Western held a 15-3 advantage in shots, but the score remained deadlocked at 0-0.
At the 51:18 mark of the second half, Celia DeVoe was taken down near midfield, resulting in a yellow card being given to Costello. DeVoe earned a yellow card of her own when she re-entered the game before receiving permission of the official, but the play seemed to ignite the rest of the Western team and the Colonials kept the ball pinned in the Keene State end of the field for the next 10 minutes.
The DeVoe sisters nearly broke the scoreless tie at the 63:57 mark when Celia DeVoe attacked the right side of the Keene State defense, bringing the ball deep into the box near the end line to the right of the goal. After dribbling the ball around an Owl defender, she delivered a pass to Andrea DeVoe, but the younger DeVoe’s header went just wide of the left post, and the score remained 0-0.
With just over 12 minutes to play, junior Brittany Tolla (Newtown, CT) recovered a loose ball to the left of the Western goal, but her cross-cage shot went just past the fingertips of a diving Fernandez and just wide of the right post.
Three minutes later, freshman Patricia Norton (Hampton, CT) moved the ball around a Western defender and broke in on the goal. Fernandez came well off the goal line and used her body to smother the ball just as Norton attempted a shot, preventing an Owl goal.
One minute later at the other end of the field, Sorice and Newhard executed a perfect give-and-go, but Newhard’s shot was saved by the Keene State keeper.
After 90 minutes of play, the score remained 0-0, and the championship headed to overtime.
Western was the aggressor to begin the overtime period, earning an early corner kick and taking the first two shots of the period, but Keene State’s keeper, junior Danielle Warhall (Spofford, NH), continued to have an answer for the Western shooters and the overtime continued.
Six minutes into the first overtime, Chacho moved the ball deep into the Keene State end to the left of the goal. She threaded a pass to Sorice who dribbled around an Owl defender, but Sorice’s shot caromed hard of the crossbar and play continued.
With 30 seconds remaining in the first overtime period, Western was fouled near the far left sideline. Celia DeVoe took the kick and lofted a long pass across the face of the goal. Senior Lisa Sanzari (North Haven, CT) headed the ball toward the goal, but her attempt glanced off the right post and landed on the turf just off the goal line directly in front of Chacho. With only nine seconds remaining on the clock, Chacho punched the ball into the back of the goal, giving Western the 2015 LEC Tournament championship, and sending the partisan Western crowd into a frenzy. With the 1-0 overtime victory, Western was crowned the 2015 Little East Conference tournament champions.
In the post-game awards ceremony, Western senior Rebecca Rivera (Monroe, CT) was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
For the game, Western finished with a 29-13 advantage in shots, as well as a 5-2 edge in corner kicks. Fernandez finished with three saves in the victory for Western, while Warhall had 10 saves for Keene State, but suffers the loss.
With the win, Western’s season record moves to 16-5-1, while Keene State falls to 11-7-4. The Colonials advance to the NCAA tournament for the eleventh time in program history. The location and first-round opponent for Western will be announced on Monday.