The UW-Parkside Rangers women’s soccer team had its possible showdown of the season late Friday afternoon, and the result favored the Rangers in a 2-1 win in extra time. The opponent was Northern Kentucky University, and they entered the match ranked fifth in the country. With the Rangers coming in ranked twenty-second, this was set to be a possible launching pad for the Rangers’ season.
Coach Troy Fabiano’s side didn’t disappoint. The Rangers started strongly and found the back of the net minutes into the match. The goal was scored by junior Kristen Benson who was set up by teammate Brynn Darga for the Rangers’ first goal of the game. Scoring in the sixth minute of play, this looked to be another good day for the Rangers’ forwards. Sadly, the 1-0 was cut down instantly. Northern Kentucky scored an equalizer in a minute of play after a bobble by Parkside keeper Cassie Glodowski. The loose ball found Northern Kentucky’s Claudia Bryant, who just had to send the ball to the net.
“We came out strong,” said Head Coach Fabiano, “we scored a goal, and talked about starting out fast. Then I think we let all our air out as soon as we gave up the soft goal like that.”
From here, not even ten minutes into the match, the game had all the makings to be a barnburner. There are two top twenty-five ranked teams with no regard for defense very early on. It was going to be a full throttle affair. However, from the last goal allowed until the closing stages of the second half, the match was frankly timid.
“We were playing almost not to lose instead of playing to win,” explained Head Coach Fabiano in regards to the pace of the match. “It seemed like both teams were happy with walking off with a 1-1 tie.”
The game did start to get rowdy, and sadly for all the wrong reasons. Normally, there is going to be a bad call or two. In soccer, that’s just the nature of the game due to the officials being set in distances and vantage points away from calls that should be made, or left alone to play on. The officiating of this game took the second half by firestorm, and, by the end of this game, there were forty-four total fouls, twenty-five of which happened in the second half alone.
While the officiating took the game’s physicality into the danger zone on any given challenge for the ball, the weather Friday afternoon had its own factor in reducing chances. There were quite strong winds in the games played at Wood Road Field on Friday, and the direction changed from the men’s to women’s games. The wind was cutting across the field, which played into the few chances on goal, as the ball would cut wide.
The game coasted into extra time with the 1-1 score it seemingly started with. In the ninety-ninth minute of play, the Rangers would find their game winner. Shannon Becker, who had been physically marked by Northern Kentucky all afternoon, finally let loose on a shot toward goal. The shot was deflected, and took a huge bounce toward goal after it landed from the deflection. From there, Northern Kentucky’s keeper just misplayed the hop, and it found its way in for the Rangers.
“When [Becker] hit it, and as the ball was bouncing, I was literally talking to myself,” said Head Coach Fabiano. “Please bounce over her head! Please bounce over her head! I saw her take a step forward, and I knew she was in trouble. Then all the sudden the ball trickles into the back of the net.”
The win gives Parkside an overall record of 6-1-1, but, most importantly, an undefeated Great Lakes Valley Conference record of 6-0-0 moving forward.
“It wasn’t the prettiest of games,” noted Head Coach Fabiano, “but at the end of the day you get the W. It wasn’t pretty, you learn from it, and you move on. Especially in this conference.”
The Rangers will next play at home Sunday against Bellermine University, who come in with an overall record of 4-3-0, as well as a conference record of 3-2. Be sure to come out and watch from Wood Road Field, as the Rangers look to keep an undefeated record in conference play.