Aug. 22, 2010
It's your first college soccer game. What could be better than scoring a goal? How about scoring it on the road in overtime to knockout Big East power UConn in the season opener. Well that's what freshman Brittany Pfaff did Sunday afternoon as Siena defeated UConn 3-2 in a non-conference game at Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Conn.
"It was really exciting," Pfaff said. "Everybody had played hard the entire game and it was great to come out with a win. It just put a cap on the whole week."
After a short preseason, Siena faced one of the toughest opponents it's played in years. UConn, picked third in the Big East preseason poll, was ranked as high as 24th in the country last season. The Huskies also protect their home turf. They went 9-1-1 at home last year and presented a tall task for the Saints.
Siena (1-0) stumbled early in the game and allowed UConn (0-1) to take a 1-0 lead in the 7th minute. The Huskies collected a loose ball and Jessica Shufelt drew it across the goal to Meghan Cunningham who fired it into the net.
"It was a tough start being down 1-0 in the first 10 minutes," head coach Steve Karbowski said. "But we settled in and found out we could play with them. Then in the second half we felt a sense of confidence."
The Saints scored two goals in the opening minutes of the second half. The first from senior midfielder Cara Riley (53') and the second from sophomore forward Caitlin Cahalan (54'). Cahalan hit a free kick that goalkeeper Jessica Dulski stopped but she gave up a rebound. The defense poked the ball out of the box, but Riley sent a screamer into the top left corner from 30 yards out. Just over a minute later, Cahalan ran onto a through ball and took it down the right side of the field. She came in from the end line and with a low angle, deflected her shot off a defender and past Dulski at the near post.
Siena held the lead for most of the remainder. UConn outshot Siena 28-11 in the game, but most shots came from distance and goalkeeper Laura Ettinger
made seven saves. In the 88th minute, Shufelt scored on a shot from 23 yards away and forced overtime. It could have been a heartbreaker, but it wasn't.
In a back and forth overtime, Siena had its chances. The Saints outshot the Huskies 3-0 and had a 2-0 advantage in corner kicks. With 30 seconds left in the first overtime, Pfaff broke through.
Ettinger punted a ball over both teams' midfielders and Pfaff won the ball and turned past a defender. She beat the center back one-on-one and then shot the ball low through the keeper's legs and into the goal.
"Everyone just came running at me and we were all hugging each other," Pfaff said. "Then the players from the bench came out and it was just a great team bonding moment. It felt like the team really came together."
The Saints return to action on Friday when they play Stony Brook on the road at 7 p.m.
Notes: This was the first ever meeting between Siena and UConn...Brittany Pfaff led Siena with four shots...Siena has a 14-2-3 non-conference record since the start of the 2008 season...This was Siena's first varsity athletic event of the 2010-11 season.