Del Mistro’s second-half strikes lead Quinnipiac to victory

By on October 8, 2011
With the score deadlocked at 2 on Friday, defenseman Chelsea Smith saw an opportunity and helped claim a Northeast Conference win, as the Bobcats won 3-2 over Robert Morris at the Quinnipiac Soccer Field.As midfielder Crystal Burns faced a double team to the left of Robert Morris’s box, Smith pushed up from her defensive position near midfield. The ball from Burns led Smith towards the end line undefended. Her left footed cross into the box turned into a header and game winning goal for senior Kristina Del Mistro.

The assist was Smith’s second on the season and the goal for Del Mistro was her second of the game and the third game-winning goal of her career.

Winners of two straight and three of four, the Bobcats (3-5-1, 2-1 NEC) jumped Robert Morris (7-5-1, 1-2 NEC) in the conference standings and are showing signs of progress after an 0-4-1 start to the season.

“That’s one of those where early in the season we haven’t won those games,” said Quinnipiac head coach Dave Clarke. “Now it shows that they can handle the pressure. The way the league is setup, where you don’t play home-and-away, these games are six pointers. There’s a lot of pressure in these games and they dealt with it.”

The Bobcats came out of the gates slowly as the Colonials nearly converted their first scoring chance. Less than four minutes into the game, Ayana Davis led Rachel Sebbens with a pass into the box creating an open shot that flew a foot over the crossbar.

Later in the first half, pressure from the Bobcats offense led to a corner kick. Burns placed the ball and found Aine McKeever, who used her 5’10” height to head to score her first goal of the season to the right side of the net for a 1-0 Quinnipiac lead. It was the first goal of the season for McKeever and first assist for Burns since joining the Bobcats.

The Colonials responded with consecutive goals in the first half. Less than four minutes after McKeever’s goal, Davis tied the game on a Robert Morris corner. Holly Sieradzki sent in a high cross to the far post that Davis headed to the opposite side of the net that put her into a tie for the NEC lead in goals with eight.

Robert Morris took the lead at the 34:11 mark after a quick throw caught the Bobcat defenders off guard. Leah Prentice’s cross into the box was deflected out to Jess Sharik. The shot bounced off the crossbar and down over the goal line as the Bobcats trailed 2-1.

Going into the locker room at halftime, Clarke lit a spark under his players and they responded with their first come-from-behind victory of the season.

“I thought we gave them too much space in midfield and up front so we tried to push onto them,” Clarke said of his team’s second half adjustments. “It didn’t always work but that was the goal. And then to just deal with the emotion. We gave up two soft goals, I mean they were good finishes in that regard but we dealt with it and the emotion of going 2-1 down and came out winners.”

In the second half, both teams amped up the aggression as a total of 22 fouls were called after just six in the first half. Players from both sides were fighting for every deflection and the Bobcat perseverance paid off with a goal early in the half.

Senior Furtuna Velaj attracted multiple defenders on a rush up the middle and passed wide to junior Shauna Edwards. She took the ball to the end line and crossed over to Del Mistro who had a wide open net at the far post as Velaj took two defenders in the middle of the box. One touch and a solid strike was all Del Mistro needed for her first goal of the season and Edward’s team-leading third assist.

Continued pressure and solid play from the back line led to the game winner for Del Mistro, who recorded her first career multi-goal game.

The Bobcats start off their four-game NEC homestand with a victory and will face off against Saint Francis (Pa.) (6-5-1, 2-0-1 NEC) on Sunday.

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