October 14, 2010

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CHC women ninth in region, men also win Saturday

ONE MAKES A FACE, ONE MAKES A PLAY 2009 CACC Player of the Year Lauren Riiff (right) isn’t phased by a ball just an inch from her nose as she receives a pass from the wing. The CHC junior rang up a goal and an assist to help the Griffins beat Jen Jimenez (left) and the Felician Falcons. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

In a men’s and women’s soccer doubleheader at Chestnut Hill College last Saturday afternoon, the host Griffins fleeced Felician College of Rutherford, N.J. The Golden Falcons went home empty-handed, without a win or even a single goal.

CHC sophomore goaltenders Jessica Veazey and Michael Goldstein registered six saves and five saves, respectively, as the Griffin women won, 3-0, and the men prevailed, 1-0, against their conference rivals.

In the last two weekly polls compiled by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, the Chestnut Hill women were ranked ninth in the East Region among NCAA Division II teams. Having chalked up three wins (including Saturday’s victory) since the most recent survey on October 5, the Griffins could move up in the rankings. Their success over the weekend raised their record to 10-1-2 overall and 8-0-1 within the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.

The men’s team at CHC is close to clinching a playoff berth in the CACC tournament, improving to 5-2 in conference play and 8-4 overall thanks to Saturday’s outcome.

Starting off the twin bill, the women’s team took the field without regular starter Alyssa Radetich, a sophomore who is about to come off the injured list.

The Griffins had rung up a lot of goals earlier in the week in an 8-0 rout of Lincoln University and a 3-1 conference win at Philadelphia University, and Felician (3-3, 4-5) tried to slow down CHC’s potent offense by having its defense focus on the offsides trap. The hosts quickly figured this out, and scored the only goal they would need for the victory about nine minutes into the action.

Junior Lauren Riiff received a pass about 25 yards out in the middle of the field, and visiting keeper Shaneil Lorenzo advanced into the box to try and cut down the shooting angles. Riiff surveyed the situation and lofted the ball into the air in the direction of the goal. It almost looked like a throwaway play until you saw the ball come down right under the crossbar to beat the retreating Lorenzo. With 10 goals and four assists so far this fall, Riiff is on track to repeat as CACC Player of the Year.

Aside from Riiff, senior midfielder Tara Morey, and junior back Lauren Brown, the CHC regulars are a youthful bunch, with the team routinely starting eight freshmen and sophomores. Rookie Carly DiGiovanni, who would be involved in the Griffins’ third scoring play, said the assimilation process has gone smoothly for the young players.

“The older girls helped us adapt pretty quickly,” the freshman explained. “We did a lot of team bonding activities in the pre-season, so now it feels natural for us to work together in games. We’re close on and off the field and we all believe in each other. It’s not just one or two people getting credit for the good things or the blame for the mistakes.”

A little over eight minutes before the end of the period, Riiff got off another outside shot for the hosts, and this one was stronger and more direct. Lorenzo blocked the ball but couldn’t hold it, and freshman Brittany Boles closed in to stuff in the rebound.

“A lot of goals happen that way,” DiGiovanni pointed out. “You always have to follow up the first shot – we work on that in practice.”

It was DiGiovanni who fired from the outside to initiate the third scoring sequence. Her classmate Marykate McShane was waiting near the right post and deflected the ball into the cage with two minutes to go in the half.

The Griffins went into more of a maintenance mode after the intermission. CHC had amassed a 17-7 advantage in the shot column during the opening period, but the attempts leveled out at 7-7 in the second round. Felician made several worthy bids to break up the shutout, and on one hard outside shot with 23 minutes remaining, CHC’s Veazey had to use all of her six-foot length to snare the ball just beneath the crossbar.

In the men’s game, Chestnut Hill withstood a few early assaults by the Golden Falcons and then began to reverse the flow of the play. However, the Griffins would not be in a completely secure position until the final horn sounded.

“I think we controlled the majority of the game,” said CHC coach Keith Cappo, “but they’re the type of team that works hard, and the longer you let them stay in the game the more chances they have to score that tying goal.”

The marker that the visitors would be trying to match came from Griffins tri-captain Gavin Reid. With 25 minutes left in the first half, the CHC junior fired a strong shot a little wide to the right in the aftermath of a corner kick sequence. The Griffins kept sending balls into the box, and when one of them bounced back out on the left side Reid settled it, dribbled across the 18, and uncorked a successful shot with 22:46 remaining.

In the next minute a CHC corner from the right side provided another scoring chance, but here, as later on, the hosts were unable to add an insurance goal.

“Felician was a little slow getting back on the transition, but that didn’t quite sink in for us,” Cappo said. “If we’d recognized that and had counterattacked a little bit quicker, we would’ve had more chances. We also should’ve finished a few of the chances we did have.”

Although the Griffins enjoyed an advantage in ball possession in the second half, the Golden Falcons still put a few scares into the home crowd. Among their opportunities were back-to-back direct kicks about 15 minutes into the second period, but a soft, easily-saved shot on the first try was followed by a harder-hit ball that CHC’s Goldstein was able to deflect wide of the left goalpost.

The Griffins almost acquired a second goal with 26 minutes left, but on a close-range shot by sophomore Ryan “Sunshine” Lannutti, quick reflexes allowed Felician keeper John Weber to make the stop.

Eventually, the remaining minutes dwindled into single figures, but Cappo felt his club was not always mindful of the time factor.

“Late in the game we were still trying to bring the ball out of our end on the ground through the middle,” he observed. “That’s when we have to realize, ‘Hey, we’re up a goal with five minutes left - let’s just get the ball out.’ But overall our defense played hard, and anytime you get a shutout it’s pretty nice.”


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