WEST POINT, N.Y. - Katie Holder scored midway through the first half and Candace Stewart tallied just before halftime intermission, and the keeper made two of her four saves late in the game as Army made that lead stand in a 2-0 victory over Navy in the “Star” Match on Senior Night in the regular-season Patriot League finale Friday evening at Clinton Field before 1,204 partisan fans.
Army’s victory was the first Patriot League loss suffered by the Midshipmen (15-4-0, 8-1-0 PL), who clinched the tournament top seed last week, and was the first time Navy was scored upon in conference play following eight straight shutouts. It also opens the door for Boston University who could co-share the regular-season league title with the Midshipmen with a win over Bucknell Saturday.
The win also keeps alive Army’s hopes to host a quarterfinal round of the Patriot League Tournament Tuesday evening as the Black Knights (8-7-3, 4-3-2) finished with 14 points (three for a win, one for a tie) , but that depends upon the Boston University-Bucknell matchup and American-Colgate on Saturday. A win or tie by the Terriers over the Bison and the same for Colgate over American, allows Army to host as Buckenll and the Eagles would finish with 13 points..
Army took charge of the game in the first half as it outshot Navy 7-2 with Holder recording her third game winner of the season when she tallied off an assist from senior Kimberly An in the 28th minute. Her shot from the middle of the box beat goalkeeper Elizabeth Hoerner, who came into the game showing a stingy 0.44 goals-against average and was unscored upon in league play.
““It was a great win for our senior,” said Holder after the game. “ I couldn’t be happier. The crowd was great, we don’t ever get that, so it was really nice and it’s a great rivalry. We practiced a lot on how they play, and we knew exactly what to do when we stepped on the field and it worked out really well. The fact that we got the first goal against them made all the difference.”
Just over a minute later, Navy’s Morgan Dankanich's took the first shot for the Midshipmen and it went wide before the Midshipmen took their lone shot on goal in the first half at the 15:34 mark, but it was rejected by freshman keeper Jordan Cassalia.
Army boosted its lead to 2-0 with just two minutes remaining to intermission on sophomore forward Candace Stewart’s goal from 17 yards off an assist from Anna Lail for her third tally of the season.
Navy outshot Army 8-5 in the second half with four shots on goal, but was thwarted by Cassalia and a determined Army defense. There were dangerous opportunities for Navy, the first on a close header by Ashlynn Soellner for a team save when senior co-captain Joey Molacek kicked the ball away.
The Midshipmen took three shots on goal late in the game with Dankanich, who leads the league in goals (12) and game winners (six), firing two of those shots but was rejected each time by Cassalia. Her first attempt came with 11 minutes left in the game on a close shot that Cassalia rejected with defender Madison Oliver getting a piece of the ball, then Dankanich’s final attempt from the end line to the near right post was snagged by Casslia with five minutes left. Navy’s last shot, a header by Soellner with 2:24 to go, was rejected by Cassalia who recorded her fourth save of the game to protect her fifth clean sheet of the season and second in league play in her first Army-Navy game.
“Give Credit to our team, they went out and played very well against an outstanding Navy team,” said first-year Army coach Marcia McDermott. “It all stemmed from really good defense high up the field and the ability to win the ball.
“Kim (An) is a remarkable competitor. She’s been a great goal scorer for us, but she’ll play in any role we need her to. I think we played really good defense across the board. We did a good job at executing our defensive game plan and that led to a lot of our attacking opportunities. The fans here are fantastic, the rivalry is remarkable and the fans tonight were crucial to our team’s play.”
The Black Knights will have to wait until the outcome of Saturday’s game to find out if they will be hosting a quarterfinal round.