WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Freshman Caroline Rice tallied just before the half and senior Liz Bettered scored three minutes into the second half for all the scoring needed in Army's 2-1 non-league women's soccer victory over Fairfield Sunday afternoon under rainy conditions at Clinton Field.
The win lifted Army above .500 as the Black Knights improved to 5-4-2, while snapping the Stags' five-game unbeaten string as they slipped to 6-4-0. Both teams were NCAA participants last year after winning their respective conference's automatic bid with Army a member of the Patriot League and Fairfield in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Rice capitalized on her lone shot of the game and Army's first on goal after settling a cross inside the box from sophomore Ashleigh Sheets that she fired into the opposite left corner of the net with 2:47 remaining in the first half. The goal was her first collegiate tally and first by a freshman this season, while Sheets recorded her second assist of the season and career sixth.
It didn't take long for Army to strike again as it doubled its lead to 2-0 just minutes into the second half on Betterbed's header into the right side of the net in the 48th minute for what would prove to be the winning margin. Freshman Paige Alexander, cutting down the left sideline, sent the ball forward to Betterbed following a pass from Dee Clegg for the Black Knights' second double assists of the season. The goal is Betterbed's second goal and game winner of the season, while the assists were Alexander's and Clegg's first this year.
Fairfield ruined Army's shutout hopes when Jasmin Corniel beat Army keeper Alex Lostetter one-on-one with a close shot to the left side of the net at 57:33 following a counterattack. That proved to the Stags lone shot on goal among the five it took in the second half.
Army held the shot advantage in both halves, showing a 10-7 margin after the first 45 minutes and held a 7-5 lead in the second half for a final 17-12 margin, The Stags booted all four corner kicks, while both keepers finished with two saves.
"It is a big win for our program against a quality opponent that is having a good year," said head coach Stefanie Golan. "It is the second straight game that we played good soccer and the team is peaking at the right time.
"We are ready to open Patriot League play which begins next week with three conference matches during a five-game road trip."
The Black Knights, the defending Patriot League champions, open their conference slate Friday at Lehigh. Army was picked fourth in league's preseason poll of coaches and sports information directors, while Lehigh listed sixth. Last year the Mountain Hawks' 2-0 win over the Black Knights in the regular-season league finale knocked Army out of first place in the conference along with snapping its eight-game unbeaten string.
NOTES: Liz Betterbed took over as Army's scoring leader with six points (2 goals, 2 assists) followed closely by Dee Clegg with five points (2 goals, 1 assist) ... Betterbed was moved to mifield this season to take advantage of her scoring ability and has two of the team's five game winners ... it is just the third time this season that Army has scored multiple goals in a game (3-0 vs. NJIT and 2-0 vs. Stetson) ... the Black Knights pulled ahead 3-2-0 in their series with Fairfield ... the Stags recently defeated Patriot League member Holy Cross 2-0 ...