Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
CHICOPEE, Mass. – The Elms College women's soccer squad delivered a hard-fought effort in a non-conference matchup against visiting Westfield State, falling to the Owls, 3-0, at Leary Field Wednesday night.
With 27:52 to play in the first half, Westfield State broke the scoreless tie as senior forward Amanda Grant (Westfield, Mass.) placed a pass between the Blazers defenders to lead senior midfielder Sarah Sypek (Westhampton, Mass.) to the front of the goal, where she tucked a shot past Elms junior goalkeeper Alex Rinaudo (Bellmore, N.Y.) to stake the Owls to a 1-0 lead.
In the 36th minute of play, Westfield State extended their lead to 2-0 as senior defender Ali Blanchette (Palmer, Mass.) tapped a free kick from just outside the Blazer box into the box to Grant, who placed a shot just beyond the reach of Rinaudo.
The Owls final tally came with 25:11 to play as Grant netted her second goal of the day, taking a header pass from senior defender Lauren McLaughlin (Pittsfield, Mass.), dribbled into the Blazers box, and fired a shot to the right side of the net, securing the 3-0 win for Westfield State. Elms had a chance to dent the scoreboard in the final minute, but a strike from freshman midfielder Jackie Soucia (Belchertown, Mass.) rattled off the post.
"We are proud of our effort today," said Elms Head Coach Sean Milbier. "We are playing well, but just not well enough to win. We give a lot of credit to Westfield, they are a very good side, and the best team we'll see this year, in my opinion. They were fast, creative, dynamic, and a handful for us to defend. At the same time, our kids hung tough, and we'll look to get that next conference win on Saturday. I'm very proud of our effort, if you look at that last play of the game, we are down 3-0 with 30 seconds left, and it's easy to just pack it in, but we almost score a goal, so the effort is there and we don't believe we are a 2-8 team, and the wins will come. When you play a team like Westfield, you know you can hang with anybody, I know the result is 3-0, but we were right with them. We believe we can hang with anybody, so I think this gives us confidence heading into our next match."
The Owls paced the Blazers in the shot column, 21-6, during the contest. Rinaudo stopped a game-high eight shots for Elms, while Owls sophomore goalie Anne Stack (East Longmeadow, Mass.) made three saves for Westfield State.
The Blazers moved to 2-8 on the season, while the Owls improved to 8-2-1 overall. Elms will return to their New England Collegiate Conference schedule in a home tilt against Becker College at Leary Field Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.