Women’s soccer advances to GNAC championship

By Kaie Quigley – Co-Editor-in-Chief/Digital Sports Editor

All photos courtesy of Joe Giacco

On Wednesday afternoon at Taylor Field, the No. 2 seeded women’s soccer team defeated No. 3 St. Joseph’s College of Maine 2-0 in the semi-finals of the Great Northeastern Athletic Conference (GNAC) tournament. The Lasers will now move on to their tenth title game in school history, and look to take home their ninth GNAC cup— all of which have been under head coach Vito La Francesca.

“We’ve been waiting for this since August,” said La Francesca after the win. “I think this group is very special.” Heading into the finals against No. 1 seeded Johnson & Wales University, La Francesca said, “if we do our homework, we grind away and we stick to the game plan, I think we’ll do alright.”

The Lasers put Monks goalie Adia Grogan to work early, forcing the senior keeper to make several saves in the first ten minutes. Junior Bobbi O’Guin and senior Serena Speight spearheaded the offensive onslaught for the home team early in the first half, creating multiple scoring chances from the wings. O’Guin rifled two back-to-back crosses into the box from the right side, finding the head of junior Alex Lorenzo who narrowly missed her target both times.

Just moments later in the 17th minute, the Lasers scored their opening goal after wearing down St. Joseph’s backline. After a deflection, the ball found the feet of O’Guin who slotted it across the six-yard-box to first-year Alyssa DeOliveira for the finish. DeOliveira’s score to put her team up 1-0 was her GNAC-leading 18th goal of the season.

The Lasers stayed on the attack for the next several minutes, looking to expand their lead before time expired in the first-half. In the 35th minute, they did just that. A foul drawn by first-year Priscilla Martinelli in the midfield left the Lasers with a free-kick some 40 yards from goal. Junior Alexys Suojanen stepped up to take the set piece, but instead of crossing the ball into the box, she took aim at the goal. Suojanen struck the ball over the heads of everyone, including Grogan, finding the back of the net to put the Lasers up 2-0.

In the second half, the style of play switched for the Lasers. “We were trying to protect the two goal lead, we just dropped on a defensive style game. Just let them play over the top and try to clean that up,” said La Francesca. This change in game plan led to a scoreless second half as the Lasers fettered the Monks offense.

“I said to them, today we’re playing for Thursday, let’s get back on that field…,” said La Francesca about his message to his team, “so that’s what they did. Now we’re playing to get to Saturday. None of them want practice to end, and obviously we got the 2-0 victory to seal that.”

The GNAC Championship will be played on Saturday, November 6 at Johnson & Wales University. Time of the game is to be determined.

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