TOLEDO, OH – Senior Natalia Gaitan converted a penalty kick with only 17 seconds remaining in the first overtime period to give Toledo a thrilling 2-1 victory over Ball State on Friday at Scott Park. With the win, the Rockets improve to 6-8-1 overall, 4-2-1 in the Mid-American Conference.
Gaitan perfectly placed a shot out of the reach of Cardinals’ (6-5-4, 3-2-2 MAC) goalie Aubrey Buehler into the lower left corner of the net to tally her third goal of the season and send the UT bench into a frenzy. The 2012 tri-captain is now 1-of-2 on penalty kicks in 2012.
The penalty kick was setup as a result of UT freshman Angelica Hernandez getting taken down in the left corner of the BSU goal box at the 99:43 mark.
Both teams finished with 10 shots in the highly-contested MAC West Division showdown, and Toledo held a 10-2 edge in corner kicks. Junior Rachel MacLeod paced the Midnight Blue & Gold with three shots, while senior Megan Blake and Hernandez had two shots each.
The two-time reigning MAC regular-season champion Rockets were aggressive at the outset of today’s match and had the first scoring opportunity in the seventh minute. Hernandez played a long ball to MacLeod down the left side behind the last line of the BSU defense. Unfortunately for the home team, BSU’s Buehler came off her line and intercepted the pass before MacLeod could get off a shot.
As the first half wore on, Ball State was presented with a quality scoring chance off the foot of Nicole Pembleton in the 23rd minute. The Cardinals’ forward made a long run with the ball down the right side and blasted a shot from 20-yards out that UT sophomore netminder Kelsey Borowitz was in the proper position to make the save.
Moments later, Toledo’s aggressive attack paid off as Blake found the back of the net at 25:30. Sophomore Kirsten Catloth played a corner kick into the middle of the BSU goal box to get the play started. A scrum for the loose ball ensued, and Blake was able to redirect it into the goal for her second marker of the season.
In the opening stages of the second half, Ball State took advantage of a lapse in the UT defensive to knot the score at 1-1 on a goal by Pembleton. With the ball deep in Toledo’s territory, Catloth made a pass from the left side to Blake at the top of its own goal box. BSU’s Pembleton applied a good bit of pressure on Blake and outmuscled her for the ball. As a result, she was all alone on the goal. Pembleton took a quick dribble and placed a low shot under the arm of Borowitz to pull the team’s even at 47:58.
Ball State had the only other legitimate scoring opportunity in regulation on a shot by Michelle Blok with a little less than 24 minutes showing on the clock. Blok found a seam in the Toledo defense about 25 yards from the end line and lofted a shot that just skimmed over the crossbar and out of play.
In the extra period, BSU’s Jasmine Moses was presented with a good scoring chance, but one more time UT’s Borowitz punched the ball over the crossbar and out of danger. Teammate Pembleton started the action with a pass to Moses, and the forward quickly turned to her left to create some open space. She then fired a shot that Borowitz punched out of bounds to set up a corner kick with 7:40 left in the first overtime.
Toledo also had a quality scoring opportunity in the extra period when MacLeod fired a shot from approximately 12-yards out that was initially blocked, but the ball caromed right to Hernandez in the middle of the pitch. The Bogota, Colombia native tried to hammer home a low shot toward the far post, but the attempt sailed just wide with 2:26 remaining.
A little over two minutes later, Hernandez made a nice run with the ball down the left side and was tripped by a BSU defender in the box to set up Gaitan’s match-deciding penalty kick.
Between the posts, Borowitz was outstanding and finished with five saves to collect the hard-earned victory.
Toledo will look to continue today’s momentum on Sunday, Oct. 14 when it hosts MAC overall frontrunner Miami (13-2-0, 7-0-0 MAC). The opening whistle is slated for 1:00 p.m. from Scott Park. Prior to the start of Sunday’s match, the Rockets will honors its six seniors (Megan Blake, Natalia Gaitan, Rachel Kravitz, Kristen Mattei, Jaimie Morsillo, Blair Sorg).
TOLEDO 2, Ball State 1 (OT)
UT: Megan Blake (Kirsten Catloth), 25:30
BSU: Nicole Pembleton (Unassisted), 47:58
UT: Natalia Gaitan (Penalty Kick), 99:43
SHOTS: UT 10, BSU 10
CORNER KICKS: UT 10, BSU 2
SAVES: UT 5, BSU 2
FOULS: UT 11, BSU 14