It was an experience that the College of Staten Island women’s soccer team will not soon forget and it was an impressive leap forward for the unit as a program, but unfortunately the run towards a national championship reached a halt on the tournament’s opening day, as the Dolphins suffered a 6-0 loss, to No. 1 ranked Messiah College at Shoemaker Field in Mechanicsburg, PA. CSI finalized their season at 13-5-1, while Messiah (19-0-2) will now advance to the Round of 32.
The home Falcons left little to doubt and from the start of the game but a heap of pressure in front of the CSI goal. Just 1:25 in, CSI keeper Kristy Colangelo make a fingertip sprawling save of Marisa Weaver, part of 15 saves for the senior. The Dolphins continues to weather a few storms in front of their own goal, including a Weaver breakaway that she punched off of the crossbar. Finally, at 8:03, the Falcons hit pay dirt when Kyele Bridel played a shot off of a blocked attempt by Marisa DeMonte, making the score 1-0. Five minutes later, after relentless pressure, Nikki Elsaesser punched in another in a feeder from Bridel.
While the Dolphins tried to ramp up the pressure, Messiah was then able to utilize its counterattacking style, and after forcing Colangelo into three more saves, Messiah made it 3-0 at the break with a Lilly Shover strike from right outside the box that corkscrewed through the wind past Colangelo.
Messiah added three more goals in the second half, including one less than five minutes into the stanza by Weaver. Elsaesser scored her second in the 58th minute, while Holly Burgard finished the scoring for Messiah in the 68th minute.
All told, Messiah led the final shot count, 43-1 (21-1 on goal), and earned a 16-0 edge in corner kicks. Weaver and Burgard led all with seven shots apiece. Audra Larson played the first 69 minutes in goal for Messiah and was followed by Sara Yunez.
Despite the lop-sided final, Head Coach Giuseppe Pennetti was upbeat about his team’s performance and understood the bigger significance to the game.
“This is the type of game that has us thinking positively about the future,” he said. “They have a very strong side with a lot of national championship experience and we were making our first trip. Hopefully we can grow this into bigger and better things. Our players worked hard, they had fun during the season and that’s all we ever ask.”
Overall, the coach was thrilled with what the team accomplished.
“Obviously we won’t let this game symbolize the wonderful season we had,” he said. “We achieved a goal that had not been done before, and as coaches we will build on this through recruiting and a desire to return to the national stage with increased success.”
For CSI, the 13 wins are the second most in program history. The team won its seventh CUNYAC Championship as well.