Women's Soccer Secures Playoff Berth with 4-2 Win Over Becker

Women's Soccer Secures Playoff Berth with 4-2 Win Over Becker

BENNINGTON, Vt. – The Southern Vermont College women's soccer team is headed back to the postseason for the sixth-straight year as the Mountaineers locked up a playoff berth in the upcoming New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) tournament by defeating Becker College 4-2 Tuesday afternoon at Everett Field.

With the score tied 2-2 at halftime, SVC came out and took an edge early in the second stanza. The Mountaineers then added a late insurance goal with just 5:05 on the clock to seal the league victory.

Four Southern Vermont players found the back of the net in the win, the difference maker coming off the foot of SVC freshman Taylor Mallett (Berwick, Maine).

SVC improves to 8-5-2 overall and 5-2 in Conference play while Becker falls to 9-7 on the year and 4-3 against the NECC. Southern Vermont has now won four out of its last five meetings with the Hawks, closing Becker's all-time series lead down to a 7-4 margin.

The Mountaineers are next in action on Saturday, visiting Regis College for a 2:30 p.m. NECC kickoff. Becker plays the same day, hosting Daniel Webster College for a 12 p.m. Conference contest.

SVC freshman Danielle Biggers (Bronx, N.Y.) scored the first goal of the day, and sophomore Ally McNamee (Freehold, N.J.) then added the Mountaineers' second in the 42nd minute of the match. Mallett registered an unassisted tally 3:25 into the second half, and freshman Izzy Coleman (Coxsackie, N.Y.) got her first collegiate goal to go in the 85th minute to pad the Southern Vermont advantage. SVC senior Kelsey Hamister (Vallejo, Calif.), freshman Lexia Gillette (Pittsfield, Mass.) and Mallett each recorded an assist on the day.

The Hawks' first score came from freshman Cassandra Nelson (Exeter, N.H.), being set up by junior captain Meghan Bealka (Freetown, Mass.) on a corner kick in the 35th minute. Becker sophomore Ciara McKissick (Charlton, Mass.) then put in an unassisted tally with 2:35 to play in the first half to tie things at 2-2.

Mountaineer junior goaltender Melissa Mascari (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) turned away three Hawk shots in the win (8-5-2) as Becker freshman Solene Ndahiro (Kigali City, Rwanda) saw her first action in goal for the visitors, recording five saves in the loss (0-1).

SVC had a great opportunity early in the match, but a point-blank opportunity was turned away by Ndahiro. It would be only minutes later, however, that the hosts got on the scoreboard as they took advantage of a free kick from about 40 yards away on the right edge of the pitch. Hamister hit the set piece, a pass that bounced through the box in front of the net; Biggers ran through the ball, deflecting it off her body and into the right side of the frame for her sixth of the year and the 1-0 lead.

Southern Vermont came inches from going up 2-0 in the 28th minute when a great attempt by freshman Ashley Blom (Manorville, N.Y.) just caught the bottom of the crossbar. Her take came from about 25 yards out, looping over the Becker keeper before skimming the pipe; the rebound found an open box as there weren't any Mountaineers there to meet it for a second chance.

While SVC was able to control the ball and keep it down in the Becker end of the field for a majority of the opening half, the Hawks took advantage of their few trips into the Southern Vermont zone. A ball tipped by a Mountaineer was allowed to trickle over the goal line for a Becker corner-- one that proved fruitful for the visitors. Bealka took the corner from the right side, knocking the ball through the penalty area- untouched- to the back post; that's where Nelson met it and pushed in the equalizer for her second of the year with 10:54 left in the period.

The 1-1 tally held until late in the 42nd minute when the Mountaineers regained the upper hand. Gillette laid the ball off to McNamee at the top of the box, and the sophomore laced it off the inside of the right post into the back of the cage for her sixth of the year. That lead wouldn't last long, however, as Becker quickly got it back. Just 34 seconds later, a failed SVC clear allowed McKissick to win the ball while moving into the box. The Hawk sophomore set herself and let it rip into the lower-left side of the net to make it 2-2 with her seventh of the year.

Southern Vermont came out of the halftime break with energy and momentum, getting a handful of long runs and open looks at goal in the opening 10 minutes of the second period. One of those paid off for SVC as high pressure resulted in the Mountaineers' third lead of the day. Ndahiro came out of the net in an attempt to clear a through ball, but it glanced off of freshman Taylor Jarosz (Troy, N.Y.) who was running hard to the play; the carom found clear space towards the right side of the box, and Mallett was able to run on and fire it into the open net to put her team on top with her eighth score of the season.

The Mountaineer defense played well down the stretch, preventing Becker from having anything too dangerous through the next 35 minutes. As the Hawks pressed for the equalizer, SVC took advantage of transition opportunities and turned them into a number of long runs at the net.

One finally got past the visitors' keeper when Mallett collected the ball about 40 yards out and played it through the Becker backline to the right side. Coleman anticipated the run and took a touch at net before slotting it across the frame and into the left side of the goal for her first collegiate score. The 4-2 advantage held through the final horn, giving the Mountaineers their playoff berth.

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