WEST POINT, N.Y. – A Sarah Strand goal and a strong performance by the VMI defense helped the Keydets to a 1-1 tie with the St. Bonaventure Bonnies Sunday, in the third women’s soccer match of the Army Soccer Classic in West Point, N.Y.
Off a Sarah Putney corner kick in the 16th minute, Simone Jimenez redirected the ball and it found Strand’s feet. The senior put the shot attempt by SBU keeper Megan Junker for her fourth goal of the year, doubling her previous career high. The Bonnies (4-2-1) then tied the match 5:30 later, and went on to attempt 36 of the day’s final 41 shots.
It was not enough, however, thanks to 12 saves by VMI (2-2-1) keeper Amanda Berrios, including 11 after halftime that helped preserve the 1-1 tie. Sunday marked the second straight match in which Berrios had double-digit saves, following her 14-save effort Friday against Army.
VMI had the early edge on the overcast day in West Point, attempting the game’s first two shots. Junker stopped a try in the 10th minute, and a Liz Affronti attempt was wide right three minutes later. The Keydets then got a 15th minute corner kick, and continued their pressure to earn Putney’s corner kick at 15:39, the attempt that led to Strand’s fourth goal of the year.
The Keydets held their 1-0 edge for just under six minutes, as after a wave of SBU substitutions, the Bonnies scored directly off a corner kick, as Hannah Lapp’s try at 21:23 curved just inside the far post, tying the game at one apiece.
The teams continued to exchange rallies, as three SBU shots were blocked and an Affronti shot was stopped by Junker. Neither team could mount another shot on goal, however, until the 39th minute, when VMI’s Myranda Emery was stopped by Junker to keep the match tied, 1-1, which would be the score at halftime.
The Bonnies held an 8-5 lead in shots at halftime, and had forced Berrios to make just one save. That all changed very quickly early in the second half, as after a 49th minute shot was hit just wide to Berrios’ left, SBU’s Jordan Calabria hit the crossbar with a try. The ball rebounded to Tori Burchett, who headed it toward the net, but Berrios came up with the save to keep the match tied.
A long-distance try in the 58th minute was stopped by the VMI netminder, and SBU had a free kick go awry in the 62nd minute as the Keydets kept the match knotted at one. Berrios’ next difficult chance came at 62:32, when she turned aside the Bonnies’ Alicia Elwell, and the Keydet goalie also thwarted an SBU chance in the 66th minute, intercepting a cross to avert another scoring opportunity.
The match’s next shot on goal came at 77:50, when, off a pass into the box, SBU’s Molly Curry got off a quality shot toward the left side of the net. Once again, Berrios was up to the task, making a diving save to avert the Bonnies’ scoring try and keep it a 1-1 battle.
For the first time in the second half, VMI turned the offensive tide a bit, getting off a shot on goal at 80:53. Affronti fired the try off a free kick, but was stopped by Junker, and a follow-up effort by Putney was blocked. An Affronti corner then went for naught, setting up SBU’s final two shots of regulation. Neither were on goal, and the match went to overtime deadlocked, 1-1.
SBU had outshot VMI 16-2 in the second half, but Berrios’ four saves, including the two spectacular stops in the 63rd and 78th minutes, were enough to keep the match tied. The offensive pressure from the Bonnies continued in the first overtime, as they opened with a quick shot from the top of the box that went just high. Berrios then stopped a try from about 20 yards out, and SBU could not take advantage of a 95th minute free kick.
Shots from 14 yards (95:17) and 16 yards (96:52) were then stopped by Berrios, and SBU got its final quality chance of the first overtime when Taylor Broderick played the ball into the box, setting up a header by Alyssa Lapp. The try was deflected off the crossbar by the VMI keeper, and that would be the final shot on goal of the initial overtime period. All told, the Bonnies outshot VMI 11-0 in the first extra frame, but Berrios’ four saves were the difference.
SBU had the first shot on goal in the second overtime, a close try from Dakota Carroll that Berrios stopped. The senior then stopped two other tries in the 104th and 106th minutes for her final saves of the day, and the Keydets managed to turn the offensive tide in the waning moments, including getting a shot on goal from Affronti, her third of the match. Junker was up to the task, stopping the 25-yard try to preserve the 1-1 tie.
“St. Bonaventure certainly put a lot of pressure on us today, getting a lot of shots off, and we weathered that very well,” said VMI head coach Bryan Williams. “We were able to frustrate them despite all the pressure that they created, and I’m happy with the team’s effort and performance. Amanda did a great job, coming up with a couple of terrific saves to get us into overtime, and the back line of Christelle Ndongo, Nicole Blixt, Kacey Hall and Christina Gontarski did very well also. We had a couple of chances in the second overtime, including Liz Affronti’s shot on goal with the keeper out of position, but just couldn’t quite find the winning goal. In the first half, I thought they used their depth well to keep up the pressure, but we took advantage of what we were able to do and create chances, including Sarah Strand’s goal off Simone Jimenez’s redirection. I think we recovered from a bad goal on SBU’s corner and responded well, and to take a team like them to overtime is a solid result, and I think this can be a big confidence boost for this squad.”
The Bonnies would finish the match with a 39-8 edge in shots, but VMI held the 12-5 cushion in saves, thanks to Berrios’ efforts in net. Her back-to-back games with double-digit stops marked the first time a VMI keeper had accomplished that feat since Nov. 1-5, 2009, when Angela Redmond did so against South Carolina State and Coastal Carolina.
In addition to Strand’s goal and Jimenez’s assist, Affronti led the VMI offense with four shots, three of which were on goal. Junker stopped five shots for SBU, while Carroll had nine shots for the Bonnies.
VMI will return to action Friday, as the Keydets return home to open a three-match homestand. The initial contest will be against UMBC, and will take place Friday at 4 p.m.