Mother Nature was the only winner on Sunday afternoon in Cullowhee, N.C. as a lengthy lightning delay eventually called an early end to the Navy-Western Carolina women’s soccer contest with the score knotted at 0-0.
An even match throughout, the Mids’ defense stood tall once again as the team tallied its fourth shutout in six games this season. Navy goalkeeper Sydney Fortson (Jr., Claremont, Calif.) made three saves for Navy (2-1-3) to hold Western Carolina (3-1-2) off the scoreboard on Sunday.
“We continue to defend very well,” remarked head coach Carin Gabarra. “We played good team defense and allowed very few scoring opportunities. It’s tough to play on the road, but we are disappointed to be leaving North Carolina without a win. Two ties are okay, but considering how well we defended all weekend, we would have liked to come away with at least one victory. We have to be better in the attacking third and start converting high percentage opportunities.”
The first half of action in Cullowhee saw the action flow from end-to-end with both teams putting shots on goal over the first 15 minutes. Western Carolina’s offense was the first team to test a goalkeeper as Fortson made stops in the seventh and 15thminutes. Navy’s first shot on goal came courtesy of Baseley McClaskey (Jr., Grand Junction in the 17thminute.
One of the more high percentage scoring opportunities for the Mids came in the 34thminute when Denisse Ramirez (So., Union City, Calif.) streaked up the right wing and put the ball towards goal, eventually requiring a save by the Catamounts’ goalkeeper Natalia Icen. This started a run of back-to-back corner kick situations for Navy, that unfortunately for the visitors was unfruitful. Victoria Tran’s (Fr., Clarksville, Md.) shot on the first corner was blocked out of bounds and Alex Jackson’s(Jr., Centennial, Colo.) header on frame was saved.
Navy’s last good look in the first half came in the 44thminute when a lead pass found Molly Gillcrist (Fr., San Diego, Calif.) in space. This breakaway forced Icen to leave her line and dive towards the freshman’s feet to bat the ball away.
At the half, Navy held a slight advantage in shots at 7-6. Four of the Mids shots were on goal.
After coming out of the locker room, the game continued flowing freely, though the significant action in the attacking third for either team was few and far between as there were just three total shots taken in the opening 25 minutes. The Catamounts’ Sayres McKenna put the only shot on goal which resulted in a save by Fortson.
With 17:51 showing on the clock, a strike of lightning was caught off in the distance. Almost immediately the officials waved the teams off the field and into the locker rooms for their safety. After an hour-plus delay and no break from lightning in the near future, the call was made to declare the game final with a 0-0 decision.
In the draw, both teams recorded eight shots with Navy putting four on goal versus three for the Catamounts. The hosts held an 8-2 advantage in corner kicks.
The tie was the third straight for the Mids, who saw their record move to 2-1-3 this season. The shutout was the fourth of 2018 for Fortson and the Mids. Individually, her save percentage sits at 0.833 and goals-against average at 0.48.
Navy will return to action next weekend at home with the 2018 Navy Classic, a multi-team event to be played on Friday, Sept. 7 and Sunday, Sept. 9. The matchups on Friday will see Penn and Delaware go head-to-head at 4 p.m. before Navy tests itself versus #24 South Florida at 7 p.m. Sunday’s action will see USF and Delaware play at noon and Navy and Penn play at 3 p.m.
-Via Navy Athletics