WEST POINT, N.Y. Army opened its 2008 women’s soccer season in decisive fashion, romping to a 3-1 decision over New Jersey Institute of Technology in the season debut for both at Clinton Field Tuesday evening. Newcomers Dymon Washington and Ashleigh Sheets opened the scoring with a pair of goals just over six minutes apart as the Black Knights won their 14th season opener in 23 years and 12th in 18 years at the Division I level.
Army (1-0-0) controlled the tempo of the game from start to finish, getting off 42 shots to the Highlanders (0-1-0) one. The Black Knights tallied all three goals in the opening half with Washington booting a 25-yarder into the top right corner of the net to open the scoring at 19:51. Sheets headed senior co-captain Caroline Miller’s free kick into the net at the 26-minute mark for what would prove to be the game winner.
Junior Elizabeth Betterbed boosted Army’s lead to 3-0 after settling the ball off a pass from classmate Christine O’Leary and tallying in close with just over 14 minutes remaining to halftime.
NJIT ruined Army’s shutout when Kori Washington split a pair of Army defenders and beat starting keeper Alex Lostetter from 10 yards out. The shot proved to be the Highlander’s lone attempt of the game as Army outshot them 18-1 in the opening half and 24-0 in the second half along with eight corner kicks.
Army junior Brittany Fearnside and freshman Monica Lee split the final 45 minutes in goal in the second half and neither was tested. NJIT’s Sadie Mele pulled up with 14 saves, including nine stops, with several of those at close range, in the second half. She batted away Army's final attempt by Caitlyn Gallaher with a leaping save in the 87th minute.
Washington led Army with nine shots, including four on goal, with Sheets and Betterbed following with six each. It is the first time since 2002 that a freshman tallied in the season opener. That year Alison Mulnix notched the equalizer in a 1-1 overtime draw with Siena on the road.
“I was especially pleased with the pace of the game tonight,” remarked head coach Gene Ventriglia, following Army’s highest season-opening goal output since a 3-0 victory over Manhattan at West Point in 2005. “We played hard and had an up tempo the whole night because of our fitness. We had quality passes and took good shots but their goalkeeper was unbelievable and made tremendous saves.
“We still have work to do, but I am pleased with where we are at this point. Now we need to carry it over into our tournament later this week.”
Army returns to action hosting the BAE Systems Classic Thursday and Saturday. The Black Knights face Sacred Heart in Thursday’s nightcap at 7:30 p.m. and Saint Louis Saturday at 1:30 Saturday afternoon. Seton Hall rounds out the four-team field.
NOTES: 2008 is the final season for long-time Army mentor Gene Ventriglia, the lone coach in the history of the program ... he will retire at the conclusion of the 2008 season ... Army defeated Rensselaer 9-1 on the road in Ventriglia's debut in 1986 ... Army's 42 shots is the highest output in several years, bettering the mark of 40 registered in a 6-1 win over Albany at Clinton Field in 2005 .. the last time Army had two freshman score a goal was in 2005 when present day seniors Molly Byrnes and Pia White tallied back-to-back goals just 2:10 apart as a rallying effort fell short in a 3-2 loss to Buffalo Aug. 28 ... the game was the second of the season and played at West Point.