HAMILTON, N.Y. – The Navy women’s soccer team scored itself a key road victory on Saturday night over Colgate by the count of 2-1. With first place on the line following Bucknell’s win earlier in the day over Boston U., the Mids were faced with the task of taking down the third-place Raiders on the road at Beyer-Small ’76 Field. Both teams came into the matchup undefeated over their past 10 games, with Navy at 9-0-1 and Colgate at 8-0-2 during that span. The visiting Mids (14-3-1, 7-0-1 PL) used first half goals by Ash Fairow (Jr., Jacksonville, N.C.) and Alex Jackson (So., Centennial, Colo.) to knock off the Raiders (9-5-2, 5-1-2 PL).
“Tonight was a great team performance,” remarked head coach Carin Gabarra. “Colgate is a very tough team and we received a ton of great performances by a lot of different people to get this win. Our offense created a lot of good scoring opportunities, while our defense was very good. Our defense was very organized and knocked down every dangerous ball. Their [Colgate] best opportunities were off of set pieces and the made a lot those count and test us.”
In game that promised offensive fireworks between two the Patriot League’s top-three teams in terms of scoring average, the Mids got on the scoreboard first at 9:16 as Fairow sent home a goal from 30 yards out. The play started when Colgate’s goalie Kelly Chiavaro miss-struck a clearing attempt and the ball found the head of Cadie Higginson (So., New Orleans, La.), who directed the ball to Fairow for an empty net shot on goal. The goal was Fairow’s ninth of the 2017 season.
Down 1-0, Colgate looked to immediately respond and put the pressure on Navy with four shots over the next four minutes. Two shots went wide, while another two were blocked before getting a chance to test the Mids’ goalkeeper Sydney Fortson (So., Claremont, Calif.). The Raiders finally found their equalizer in the 22nd minute when Ellis Miller scored off of a free kick from 25 yards out. That score at 21:14 ended Navy’s nearly eight-game shutout streak. Since allowing a goal at Holy Cross on Sept. 15, the Mids had posted 719:21 straight minutes of scoreless soccer.
The back-and-forth nature of the first half continued right after that goal as Navy challenged Chiavaro with three shots on goal between 24:04 and 25:23. During one possession, Fairow put two shots on goal with Chiavaro making the first stop, but allowing the Mids’ forward to collect a rebound and take another shot.
With the minutes ticking down before halftime and the game still knotted at 1-1, Navy dialed up one of its dangerous set piece plays as Megan Rogers (Sr., Orange Park, Fla.) was tasked with a corner kick at 42:30. With a skilled touch, Rogers lofted the ball into the box for a crashing Jackson, who powered home a header shot to the back of the net.
The game went into the intermission with Navy up 2-1. Of note in the first half, Navy’s defense stifled Colgate following that goal in the 22nd minute and did not allow another Raider shot until the waning seconds of the stanza at 44:53.
In the second half, Navy went with a more defensive game plan and looked to limit Colgate’s quality looks on goal. The Mids succeeded in achieving that as all five of the Raiders’ shots in the second half were forced wide away from danger.
Colgate continued searching for the game-tying goal later on in the contest and had a strong opportunity with less than 10 minutes to go with a free kick from 30 yards out. The Raiders’ shot went wide of the net and the Mids continued to hold onto a one-goal lead.
The final minutes saw Colgate selling out whole-heartedly on offense with nearly all of its field players pressing up past the midfield stripe. Navy responded with a stout defensive stance as the visitors stood tall down the stretch and held on for the 2-1 victory.
For the game, Colgate outshot Navy, 12-11, though the Mids held advantages in shots on goal, 7-1 and corner kicks, 6-4.
Less than three full days after playing Lafayette on Wednesday, eight of Navy’s 11 starters played complete games and were on the field for the whole 90 minutes. The Mids’ entire defensive backfield, as well as three midfielders and goalie played every second on Saturday.
“We’re happy to come away with a difficult road victory tonight,” said Gabarra. “A victory made sure that we’re clear of the quarterfinal round and continue to have a chance to host the league tournament. We’re really looking forward to facing off with Bucknell next Saturday.”
Navy is now undefeated in 11 straight games with a 10-0-1 mark. The last loss by the Mids came on the road on Sept. 3 versus the current No. 1 team in the NCAA, Stanford.
Navy will wrap up its regular season next Saturday with a home matchup versus second-place Bucknell. With Saturday’s results, the Mids and Bison are the only two teams left fighting for the Patriot League regular season title and the right to host the postseason tournament the following weekend (Nov. 3-5). The top two teams in the league will kick off at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 7:00 p.m. Prior to the matchup, Navy will recognize its six-person senior class with a Senior Day ceremony.