CHC junior Kaelyn Pizarro scored the first and last goals in the Griffins’ 3-0 conference win on Saturday. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Junior Kaelyn Pizarro, an aggressive, quick conquistador on the forward line for Chestnut Hill College, was relentless in her assaults on the Bloomfield College defense during last Saturday’s conference soccer match at Victory Field.

Pizarro provided the first and last goals in the Griffins’ 3-0 victory, and harried the doomed Deacons much of the time in between as CHC raised its record to 4-2 in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, and 4-6 overall.

Carly DiGiovanni, another prolific scorer and Pizarro’s classmate, netted the first of Chestnut Hill’s two second-half goals, and senior keeper Jessica Veazey made seven saves in the cage for the Griffins, who were coming off of Tuesday’s unsettling loss to another conference team from New Jersey, Georgian Court. There, the Griffins were sent down to a 4-3 defeat by a corner kick conversion with just 12 seconds left to play, after rallying from an 0-2 shortfall earlier in the contest.

“We had such a crazy game at Georgian Court that it was good to bounce back with a win today, and of course conference wins are huge,” commented second-year CHC coach Sandy Dickson. “We’ve been working on switching the point of attack, which I think we did wonderfully in the first half. Another good thing is that a lot of kids have been getting minutes, and that’s very important in terms of getting through the season and peaking at the right time.”

After receiving a pass from DiGiovanni in the middle of the box, Pizarro punched the ball into the left side of the Deacons’ den for Saturday’s first marker, which came with a little over 13 minutes elapsed. Bloomfield made some gestures on offense and took the ball through the midfield a number of times, but above the 18-yard line the visitors kept running into an unyielding wall of CHC defenders. In addition to the usual stalwarts like juniors Brittany Boles and Lauren Nolte, other Griffins have stepped up to counter the attacks of opponents.

Dickson pointed out, “Katie Williams [a sophomore], whom we’ve moved up into the midfield these past two games, does a great job of winning balls in the air and has a good presence in there. Also, Shannon Catts [a senior back who had been coping with injuries] has finally gotten back to where she can play a lot, so she’s another strong player in that central area.”

Passing the ball well to each other’s feet, the hosts continued to generate a good deal of offense, as well. Pizarro pestered the visitors constantly, and joining in to launch some threatening shots were junior Marykate McShane and freshman Danielle Spinuzza.

The tally was still 1-0 at halftime though, and the Deacons put some pressure on the CHC cage as the second period got underway. On one ball served towards the right post Bloomfield’s Stacey Jones, an Australian import, was just a step short of knocking in the tying goal.

However, it wasn’t long before the Griffins regained their previous form and were back to firing on the Deacons’ depository. With 26:03 remaining, DiGiovanni scored from in front of the cage after senior Alyssa Radetich centered the ball from out along the right endline.

Earlier in this offensive sequence, DiGiovanni was chasing down a through pass across the 18 when she collided with the advancing Deacons goalie, Jaclyn Kosh. The Chestnut Hill junior got back up to achieve her objective, but Kosh remained on the turf and eventually retired from the contest. Although each side bellowed for a penalty on the other, the refs didn’t acknowledge anything except the goal, dealing with the injury after the clock stopped on the marker by DiGiovanni.

Soon after that, the Griffins appeared to score again, but were called offsides. Eventually, a third CHC goal was added by a fast-breaking Pizarro with 9:34 to go.

While the visitors were unable to put steady pressure on the CHC defense, there were isolated moments when Bloomfield fired some potent shots at CHC’s Veazey, who responded well.

Dickson remarked, “A lot of our practice yesterday was geared towards getting our keepers a lot of repetitions coming off their lines. Today [Veazey] showed good decision making – when to come out, and come out with some speed.”

The Griffins would like to collect a non-conference win at some juncture, but right now a 4-2 CACC record halfway through their tough conference schedule can serve as a source of encouragement.