|Captain Devon Wolfenden of East Longmeadow, MA has played an integral role in the Cougar's midfield and offensive attack all year.|
The Holyoke Community College Women's Soccer team squared off against Region 15 champions Suffolk County Community College in a road battle for the District title and a bid to the Elite 8 National Tournament. The winner of today's match would move on to the final eight teams in the country to play in the national tournament hosted by Tompkins Cortland Community College in New York November 7-11th.
Entering today's contest, the women were confident they could handle #8 nationally ranked Suffolk County Community College. Through 90 minutes of regulation play, Holyoke fired off 15 shots on net resulting all in saves, while always tough keeper Amanda Olson turned away 8 Suffolk shots. Tied 0-0 at the end of regulation, two ten-minute golden goal overtimes ensued in which neither team was able to capitalize on the instant-win opportunity. After 110 minutes of brilliant play from the Cougars, coach Rob Galazka told his team they "played their hearts out". The team certainly felt like they had deserved to win as they were extremely unlucky not to score in regulation.
After posting her 9th shutout of the season, Olson knew the game, although statistically goes into the books as a tie, would come down to 5 penalty kick opportunities. After several would-be shots turned away by spectacular saves in regulation, Olson again went to work in the net during the shootout. With one Suffolk shot missing, and another sensational rejection by Olson, Suffolk scored two goals on four penalty shots. The combined fire-power of Nikki Callini, Jess Teodore, Kristy Cominoli, and Devon Wolfenden finalized the shootout 4-2, moving Holyoke along as national contenders. All penalty kick shooters were fantastic, but it was the always impressive Wolfenden scoring the winning penalty kick goal preventing Suffolk from even attempting their fifth shot as the win was out of reach.
Head coach Rob Galazka, as always, was pleased with his teams effort. "Penalty kick shoot-outs are an unfair way to decide a game and it's one of the only things wrong with the game of soccer. We played our hearts out today and felt we were very unlucky not to win the game outright during regulation and overtime. Our entire team believed we would win as we got into to shoot out and Amanda (Olson) and the shooters all came through with great confidence for the shoot out win." Finishing off nationally ranked Suffolk 4-2 in penalty shots, the ladies will travel home for a week and a half of practice before moving on the the national scene.
The Cougars will be preparing for Elite Eight competition and the national tournament which is from November 7th to the 11th. The national quarter final game will be played November 7th at 10:00 am versus Gloucester CC (NJ/region19) at Tompkins Cortland CC (host site of Elite 8).