It was Senior Day for Parkside’s Women’s Soccer team this afternoon, and boy would this game turn out to be a classic. Parkside, entering today with an overall record of 9-3-3, took on the Panthers of Drury University, who entered with a higher overall record of 13-4.
While it was picturesque fall weather this afternoon, Wood Road Field was still very slick and sloppy from Friday’s rain showers. Whether or not the messy pitch had a say in the way the game was played isn’t certain. What is certain is that this game was a very physical and evenly played match that saw constant pressure being thrown from end to end.
“I would love for people to come see this game and say, ‘soccer isn’t physical’,” said Coach Troy Fabiano.
Parkside would pick up the pace early, having quick chances set by Crystal Chalery and Shannon Becker. Chalery would zip a cross inside the box that wouldn’t find anyone on the receiving end, and Becker would generate a corner kick early. In the 6th minute, Shannon Becker blasted a shot from outside the right side of the box that had Drury keeper Jessie Sanderson extending far high post. The shot just missed hitting post, but set up the goal to come.
A minute after Becker’s miss, senior Meredith Novak’s free kick would find the head of fellow senior Kelly Teeters. The close range header left Drury no chance, and Teeters scored her second goal of the season.
As was the case with this game, however, Drury tried to answer back immediately. Drury midfielder Kelsy Long took a shot from the left of goal off cross that never touched the ground. Cassie Glodowski raced to the near post and made the save.
Come the 25th minute, Drury again pushed in, and had Glodowski and Parkside scrambling to get the ball out of the box. The ball appeared to have caught a Drury player on the arm, but it wasn’t called, and the ball remained in the midst of many players before being kicked downfield.
Minutes after that, Parkside gave Drury troubles of their own. Shannon Becker made two defenders miss, and her blocked shot fell just in reach of a sprinting Meredith Novak. The first touch Novak had was just too hard, and got into the hands of Drury keeper Jessie Sanderson.
In the 32nd minute, senior Becky Zirlin’s close range shot created a series of corners taken by Shannon Becker. On her third corner, after a series of blocks that went out on Drury, Becker nearly swung the corner in off the crossbar. Drury quickly got the ball, and moved forward.
After the conclusion of the first half, Parkside recognized it’s senior players: Meredith Novak, Kelly Teeters, and Becky Zirlin. The three players were given a warm ovation by the crowd on hand, as they walked on the field accompanied by parents and family.
The second half began to the tune of very physical play and several fouls. While there was a yellow card given to Drury in the first half, there would be much more to come in the later stages of the game.
Drury started the second half firing on all cylinders, and it led to a goal in the 53rd minute of the game by Nicole Williams. The goal was set up by Drury’s attack in the box, which had Cassie Glodowski scrambling, and, eventually, Nicole Williams would have a ball tip off the post and fall right in her lap for Drury’s first goal of the game.
Moments from the Drury goal, Coach Troy Fabiano had words to say toward the linesmen and head official. Play was stopped for a brief period, but he was not carded.
“(The official) allowed us to play,” said Coach Fabiano after the game, ”Foul here, foul there, maybe she called it early, maybe she didn’t, but she allowed us to play the game, which was a very physical game.”
After the ball was chipped in on Drury’s goal, Crystal Chalery was injured after running into Drury’s keeper Jessie Sanderson hard. Play was stopped, and she needed help to get off the field. She would remain on the sidelines, ankle heavily wrapped, and on crutches.
The closing moments of the second half saw Parkside going into a defensive shell. Drury had many chances in the last ten minutes of play, and the physicality of the game saw Parkside’s Kristen Benson get yellow carded with three minutes left in regulation.
With a mere two minutes left in regulation, everyone was playing with a relentless pace to find the game winner. Both sides were gunning straight from defense to offense. Regulation concluded with the game tied 1-1.
“We’ve struggled in close games,” said Coach Fabiano, “One of the things we stressed to the girls is that we’ve lost two games by one goal, and tied three times. We told the girls, sooner or later, you gotta get over the hump.”
The first overtime period saw Parkside take the early fight to Drury, as Kristen Benson generated two great chances off the left wing. Her first run down the left wing saw her slashing past a defender, and put a shot past Drury’s keeper but also past an open goal mouth, where there wasn’t anyone to head in the shot.
The game got ugly with five minutes remaining in the first overtime period, as a fight broke out after a challenge in Drury’s box. Parkside’s Kahili Cheng, and Drury’s Sarah Colvin-Fritz, were given yellow cards amidst the quick scrap. Drury’s Colvin-Fritz, who had already been carded in the game, was sent off as a result of the second yellow.
“We don’t want to play at home and have people bully us around,” said Coach Fabiano, “They didn’t back down. If you looked at our roster, we aren’t that big. Thing is, though, they all have heart and it shows through.”
Playing one player up, Parkside was actually being pushed back somewhat by Drury. In Drury’s attack, Kristen Benson received her second yellow card, and was also sent off with a red card after a challenge for the ball.
The game reached a second overtime, and then a perfect ending for Senior Day. After a corner was won by Parkside, senior Meredith Novak sent in her corner that was deflected right into the path of senior Becky Zirlin who blasted a shot low to the left of goal for the game winner. All seniors contributed to the scoring sheet on Senior Day, and to this phenomenal win by Parkside this afternoon.
“All three seniors contributed,” said Coach Fabiano, “Those girls have all done so much, and not just on the field but off it.”
The win sends Parkside onto their next challenge, Robert Morris-Lake County. The game is a non-conference game, and will be held this coming Tuesday at 3:30pm. It will be the last home game for the Rangers before they participate in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Playoffs, which begin November 1st.