|The team celebrates after Devon Wolfenden scored the lone goal in the 43rd minute of play.|
|The team celebrates after the Wolfenden goal assisted by Tyler Lendon.|
|Tyler Lendon has played a crucial role in the Cougar's success as a returner and outside midfielder.|
Wolfenden lifts Cougars to 1-0 win
(Dryden, NY) Playing in the cloudy 42 degree weather on the turf stadium at Tompkins Cortland Community College, the women's soccer team stepped on the field to play Gloucester County College today at 10:00 am, only hours after receiving notification that their previous national ranking of #8 was incorrect, and they were actually ranked #5 in Division III women's soccer.
Statistically, the Cougars enter the game with more firepower, averaging 4.4 goals per game while the Roadrunners were scoring 2.8 goals per game. Defensively, the Cougars give up 0.94 goals per game while their the Roadrunners average only 0.64 goal against per game.
With the news and momentum of moving up in the rankings, both the chilly conditions and fast turf stadium would not hinder the focused Cougars championship campaign. The speed of the Cougar's midfield, precision passing approach, and great touch with the ball led a cohesive team-focused attack this morning. Nikki Callini (West Springfield, MA) and Devon Wolfenden (East Longemeadow, MA) paved the way for the Cougars win advancing them to the Final Four. Wolfenden found the back of the net on an impressive goal with the assist credited to Tyler Lendon (Springfield, MA) giving Holyoke a 1-0 lead in the final three minutes of the first half.
The second half saw a relentless Holyoke attack and several counter opportunities for the Roadrunners. Playing much of the half in the Cougar's offensive end, solid possession of the ball and tactical advances from midfield with defensive distribution threatened to put a second goal on the board. The speed up front of Tai Lopez (Springfield, MA) put pressure on the Gloucester keeper Shaneen Datts (7 saves) numerous times, but Holyoke was unable to convert in the second half. Gloucester never waived the white flag though, testing the Cougars throughout the second half causing them to "bend but not break" as Coach Rob Galazka stated. With ten seconds remaining in the game, the Roadrunners had a rushed corner kick that threatened to send the game into overtime. No overtime needed however, as the Cougars defended until the final horn with a tremendous performance from keeper Amanda Olson (Hadley, MA; 7 saves) capturing the Elite Eight victory 1-0. Olson earned her teams 10th shutout of the season working hard today with several spectacular saves that almost dashed the Cougars hopes of advancement. This is the second time in program history that the ladies have advanced to the Final Four.
The Cougars improve to 15-4-0. Gloucester drops to 15-2-0 and will play in a consolation match-up with the loser of game two Friday November 8th at 10:00 AM. The ladies will continue their championship campaign Friday, November 8th at 3:00 PM. They will face the winner of game two, Mohawk Valley Community College (Utica, New York) with a record of 16-2-0. Mohawk Valley is the current defending national champion and coincidentally the team that eliminated the Cougars last year in the national quarterfinal game.
*Photos courtesy of the tournament Facebook webpage.