Women's Soccer Pushes Past WestConn at Valiant Classic, 3-1

Purchase, NY (9/12/09) – Montclair State University senior Natalia Sisti (Lincoln Park, N.J.) scored a pair of goals, including the match-winner midway through the second half, as the Red Hawks defeated Western Connecticut State University by a 3-1 score in day-one action at the 2009 Valiant Classic, held on Saturday afternoon at GoValiants.com Field on the campus of Manhattanville College.

Sisti provided all the offense Montclair State would need with a pair of goals, raising her season goal total from one to three. Junior Jackie McGrath (Vernon, N.J.) also tallied a goal for the Red Hawks, while senior Kelli Veras (Trumbull, Conn.) had the lone goal of the match for the Colonials.

MSU senior goalkeeper Leah Tepperman (North Andover, Mass.) made five saves to earn the victory in goal, while sophomore Molly Miller (Middlebury, Conn.) also stopped five shots for Western Connecticut in the loss.

The first half featured plenty of back-and-forth action, as neither team could establish consistent possession. Western Connecticut held an 8-4 advantage in total shots in the opening 45 minutes, but Montclair State earned the first goal of the afternoon to take a 1-0 lead into the half.

In the 31st minute, MSU sophomore Christina DeMartinis (Kinnelon, N.J.) took control of the ball in the midfield and fit a ball through the WCSU defense to spring Sisti for a breakaway chance. The senior forward did not waste her opportunity, slotting the ball into the bottom right corner just under the dive of Miller.

Both teams had other chances to score in the half, but Sisti was the only player from either side to convert. A mere 3:57 into the match, WCSU’s Veras received a nice pass at the corner of the six-yard box, but immediately had her shot smothered by Tepperman to quell that chance.

Sisti had her team’s first chance in the 17th minute, when she was sprung for her first breakaway opportunity of the game. On her first chance, however, Miller came out to make a nice save at the right post to keep the match scoreless.

After one goal in about 65 minutes of action, the teams scored once each in a span of 20 seconds to bring some life to the contest in the second half. Sisti gave her team a 2-0 lead at the 65:19 mark, after freshman Stephanie Barbulescu (Franklin, N.J.) unleashed a shot that was saved by Miller but came right to Sisti at the back post for an easy tap in. Western Connecticut would not go away however, as just 20 seconds later Veras unleashed a rocket from 35 yards that picked the top-left corner to halve the deficit to 2-1 with 24:21 remaining.

Western Connecticut continued to pressure in the hopes of finding the tying goal, but instead it was MSU that used a nice counter attack to notch a key insurance tally instead with 6:44 left. Barbulescu made a nice run down the left side and cut past her defender toward the box, where she found a wide-open McGrath. With no one in front of her but Miller, the junior found the back of the net to give the Red Hawks a 3-1 lead and to secure the win.

For the match, Western Connecticut posted a slight 11-10 edge in overall shots, while Montclair State recorded an 8-6 edge in shots on goal.

Western Connecticut (1-2-0, 0-0-0 LEC) and Montclair State (3-1-0, 0-0-0 NJAC) will both return to action tomorrow on the final day of the 2009 Valiant Classic. Montclair State will face off with Mount Holyoke College in the first game of the day at noon before Western Connecticut State plays host Manhattanville College in the final game at 2:30 p.m.