Oct. 2, 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
Army scored goals off set pieces by Kim An and Errin Helbling, and goalkeeper Monica Lee turned aside six shots in the Black Knights' 2-0 defeat of Holy Cross in the Patriot League women's soccer opener for both Sunday afternoon at sun-splashed Clinton Field.
The Black Knights (8-2-2, 1-0-0 PL) are tied for first place in the conference standings with Navy, Colgate and Lafayette as all four posted league-opening decisions this weekend. The Black Knights were picked first in the league's preseason poll followed by the Raiders with the Midshipmen finishing fourth and the Leopards seventh. Army co-shared last year's regular-season title with Bucknell, but won the tie-breaker to host the tournament.
"It is a great win," remarked head coach Stefanie Golan. "We knew Holy Cross was going to be a challenge. It is always tough when you are picked to finish first and you play the team picked eighth because all the pressure is on you.
"We knew Holy Cross would fight and that they would be tough to play against. For us to score two goals on set pieces is huge. I have to credit Russell Payne (men's soccer coach) on Errin's goal because we implemented one of the pieces that he uses."
The multi-goal win is Army's fourth this season and first since defeating Stony Brook, 2-0, on the road on Sept. 16. The win is the third straight and the shutout is the Black Knights' ninth of the season.
An, the league's preseason choice for Offensive Player of the Year, scored her seventh goal of the season and fourth game winner midway through the opening half when she converted a 24-yard free kick that curved into the left corner of the net in the 22nd minute. The sophomore forward leads the league in goals, points (15) and game winners.
The native of Oak Ridge, N.J., moved up Army's career chart following her eighth game winner to move into a two-way tie with Leigh Kosco (2002-05) and Kerry Loughman (1996-99) for seventh place. The goal is her career 16th, which is just three shy of breaking into Army's top 10.
"I stepped up and said I wanted to take the free kick since it was on the left," said An, "I put my head down, I knew where the goal and I just bent it right in. It was a good feeling, and it is a shot I practiced all the time in my backyard. It was a good feeling getting that goal early, and it gave us confidence."
An's tally came just a minute after Lee pulled up her third save of the game on Holy Cross' Gina Righini's header, followed by the Crusader foul. Late in the half, Righini tried again to get a header past Lee with just over 10 minutes left to intermission following a cross across the goalmouth, but again was rebuffed as the Black Knights took the 1-0 lead into the halftime break.
Helbling, a senior forward, added an insurance goal just over 11 minutes into the second half when she headed in Donna Bennett's free kick in the 56th minute on the Black Knights' second shot of the second half.
"Donna gave me a perfect ball and all I had to do was head it in," smiled Helbling. "I had the easy job. It was good today to get multiple-goals, get the shutout and get confidence going as we head into our league schedule."
The goal and assist is the second of the season and career for both Helbling and Bennett.
Lee made her final two saves late in the second half, nixing an attempt by Sarah Kelley in the 86th minute when she tipped away the ball by the far right post. Three minutes later she stopped a hard shot by Ally Pasquariello in preserving her ninth shutout of the season and career 16th, which is three shy of moving into second place on Army's chart.
"We came out with a high intensity today to try to set the tone for the Patriot League," commented Lee, one of three Army captains. "I felt it was a very good effort on our part.
"Toward the end of the game it was chaotic as Holy Cross was throwing numbers up there, but everyone stayed composed and pulled it out at the end."
Army closes out a season-long six-game home stretch hosting league rivals Colgate Friday night and Bucknell Sunday afternoon.
"We have put the bar high, but our goal at the end of the day is to go to the NCAA Tournament," explained the third-year Army coach. "To do that we have to win the Patriot League Tournament, and to do that we just have to finish in the top four in the league to put ourselves in that position."