CHARLESTON, S.C. - The College of Charleston women's soccer team suffered a 3-2 lead to The Citadel in the final game of the 2011 regular season at the Washington Light Infantry Field on Wednesday afternoon. The Cougars led twice but surrendered the lead both times before ultimately falling in the contest.
"It was a beautiful day for soccer," said head coach Christian Michner. "Hats off to The Citadel for working hard and doing all the things they do well. They put us on our heels and we weren't able to match their intensity today.
"We take the lead twice and then surrender it. That's disappointing going into the Southern Conference Tournament. We have to come together as a team and have a better performance than this in the tournament if we expect to go far. We will get back on track over the next couple of days so we can get back to playing Charleston soccer."
Play flowed smoothly from end to end until the Cougars drew a foul at a threatening spot just outside the top of the box. On the ensuing indirect kick, Maryam Buazza (Katy, Texas) nudged the ball back and to her right to give Sarah Cardamone (Downingtown, Pa.) an angle around the Bulldogs' defensive wall and she rocketed a shot into the right side netting.
The Cougars remained heavy on the attack following their goal and maintained possession in the Bulldogs' third resulting in three corner kicks and four shots over the next five minutes of game clock.
Play slowly shifted to the other end of the field, however, and the Bulldogs equalized the match in the 34th minute. They kept a ball inbounds along the endline and centered it for Mariana Garcia who took a one-touch shot. Cricket Wise (Walhalla, S.C.) made a diving save on Garcia's effort but the rebound fell gratuitously for the Bulldogs to Vanessa Aponte who found the open net.
The Cougars ended the first period with a 13-9 shot advantage and having put seven shots on the goal frame.
The second half was physical and reflected the proximity and familiarity the teams shared. Four second-half yellow cards were issued before CofC seized its second lead of the match when McCallie Jones (Charlotte, N.C.) found Hannah Gmerek (Anderson, S.C.) with space at the top of the box and Gmerek bent a ball to her right into the side netting for her fifth of the season in the 73rd minute.
The lead was short lived as Aponte notched her second of the match after making a run on the ball through the middle of the pitch and found the back of the net in the 78th.
Five minutes and one second later, the Bulldogs took the lead and wouldn't relinquish it when Anastasia Mesa sent a ball over the Cougar defense on to Garcia who netted the eventual game winner.
The Cougars end the season at third place in the conference and will host the opening round game of the SoCon Championships at Patriots Point on Sunday, Oct. 30 at 1 p.m. as the No. 3 seed.
"You'll certainly see a team that will come out ready to fight," said Michner. "We'll go back to Patriots Point, a place we love to play at. The team will be organized and ready to go and be excited about being a high seed in the tournament and three games away from our goal which was to be Southern Conference Tournament champions."
The win was the Citadel's first ever over CofC in the 11 times the teams have met. The Cougars own a 50-6 scoring edge in the all-time series.