The Eagles drew Brandeis University (Mass.) 0-0 on Friday, before ending their incredible undefeated run with a tough overtime loss against rival New York University (NYU). The draw and the loss dropped the Eagles to 11-1-5 and 3-1-2 in University Athletic League play. The Judges moved to 12-3-2 with a 1-2-2 record in conference play. The Violets are now 10-6-1 on the year, and 2-3-1 in the conference.
“Being nationally ranked number one, every opponent we face will bring their A game,” said Head Coach Sue Patberg. “Not having the best weekend could be one of the best things for us. We realize that we have to put in more work.”
The loss was a tough pill to swallow, as the Eagles dropped their first regular season game since Oct. 9, 2010. The lone goal came from NYU junior forward Erin Ahmed, her fifth of the season. In the closing minutes of the second overtime period, NYU junior forward Leslie Smith was able to cross the ball over to Ahmed for a one-on one opportunity that senior goalie Kaele Leonard could not handle.
The first half consisted of even play from both sides. In the 15th minute, the Violets had one of their best looks in regular time, when NYU sophomore Cami Crawford’s breakaway shot clanked off the crossbar, keeping the game scoreless.
Although the Eagles were able to control the pace of the second half, neither team was able to find the net. In the last 45 minutes, the Eagles were able to muster 16 total shots, four of these being on target. The Violets totaled only four shots in the second half.
In the opening minutes of overtime, junior midfielder Clare Mullins’ shot from inside the 18-yard box was saved by NYU sophomore goalkeeper Meg Patten. Junior forward Veronica Romero followed up with a shot from the near wing, only to be saved by Patten.
The Eagle’s prime scoring opportunity came in the second overtime period, when senior midfielder Lee Bachouros’ corner kick almost found its way to the net via numerous deflections in the box. The cleared ball triggered the Violet’s golden goal drive.
“They did a good job finding each other, as well as getting the ball downfield,” noted Patberg. “They always had a good number of defenders in the box, which made it difficult for our offense to find good looks.”
Although the first half ended in a tie, the Eagle’s offensive presence during the first 45 minutes of play had the judges on their heels. The Eagle’s outshot the Judges 8-0, but only sophomore forward Emily Feldman’s fifth minute shot was on goal.
As the second half progressed, Brandeis was able to gain momentum, executing four shots during the first frame of the half, including one free kick that was saved by Leonard. Senior goalkeeper Erica Stein got the start for the Eagles; continuing the successful pattern of splitting halves each game.
“Both Erica and Kaele are always supportive of each other,” said Patberg. “They give each other tips and both understand their roles.”
In overtime, both teams had solid goal opportunities; in the first overtime period, Mullin’s header off senior Bachouros went just wide of the goal. Minutes later, Brandeis midfielder Mary Shimko’s 30-yard shot was saved by Leonard again.
The Eagles’ outscored the Judges 22-9, with five shots on goal to Brandeis’ two. Feldman led all players with five shots and two shots on goal.
The Eagles’ loss, coupled with Washington University in St. Louis’ win, eliminated Emory from UAA conference championship play. Although the UAA automatic bid is out of reach, the Eagles still have a very strong chance of obtaining an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.
“We have to evaluate what we’ve been doing wrong and find the spark that we had in the beginning of the season,” said Bachouros. “It was a devastating loss, but our team is very strong and has the ability to regroup and come out even stronger than we were before.”
The Eagles finish the regular season next weekend against Carnegie Mellon on Saturday 3 p.m.
– By Drew Heuman-Gutman