The women’s soccer team finished third in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) regular season standings with a record of 12-6-2. Despite high hopes from the team and Head Coach Vito La Francesca, a shutout loss against the Emmanuel Saints ended a season where the Lasers failed to reach their third consecutive GNAC Championship match.
Some players, including junior defender Abbey Carlotto, believe the team entered its semi-final match-up with optimism, despite a loss to the Saints earlier in the season.
“We were all confident,” Carlotto said. “In the beginning of the season, we had just formed our team, and held [the Saints] to [one goal].”
In their quarterfinal game against the Saint Joseph (CT) Bluejays, the Lasers conceded an early goal in the sixth minute, but controlled possession throughout the remainder of the half, outshooting the Bluejays 11-3. With just over 30 minutes remaining, sophomore forward Camdyn LaMarre crossed the ball to senior midfielder Evelyn Difiore, resulting in a game-tying goal that sent Taylor Field into a frenzy.
The two teams exchanged opportunities throughout the remainder of the second half, but with just seconds left in the game junior midfielder Michelina D’Agostino drew the foul from a tackle by the Bluejays’ goalkeeper, granting the Lasers a penalty kick. La Francesca gave D’Agostino the green light and made the most of it. With the crowd on their feet, the Laser from Longmeadow, Mass., calmly buried the game-winning shot in the back of the net.
After the game, D’Agostino admitted she was nervous but knew she would get the job done.
“It was nerve-wracking, but I practice [penalty kicks] all the time in practice. I knew we were going to win that game.”
After the thrilling 2-1 victory, the Lasers hoped to continue playing their best soccer against the Saints. Unfortunately, in a similar fashion to the team’s quarterfinal match, the Lasers gave up an early goal. Following an offsides call on the Saints, the Lasers failed to make a push down the field, which led to a penalty committed by the Lasers in their goalie box. Stepping up and delivering the lone goal of the match was Saints sophomore defender Annebel Balogh de Galantha.
On the other side of the ball, the Lasers’ offense never found its rhythm. Despite outshooting the Saints seven to four, the Lasers offense was blanked throughout the entirety of the match.
The defense continued to do its job, building from their half, and connecting passes in the mid-field. Where the Lasers failed to execute was in the final third of the field. Difiore and D’Agostino each had two shots on goal, but neither were able to get the game-tying goal.
Heading into next year, the Lasers will be without graduate midfielder Bobbi O’Guin and graduate defenders Grace Rava and Caroline St. Croix, three key players for the Lasers this season and seasons past. O’Guin and Rava were both named to the GNAC’s second team, while St. Croix was named to the GNAC’s third team.
It remains to be seen which Lasers will have their number called to step up following these impactful departures, but there are several players to keep an eye on next season. Difiore was named to the GNAC’s Second team, while D’Agostino and first-year goalkeeper Lataya Simmons were named to the GNAC’s third team. Senior defender Sophie Lewis was named to the All-Sportsmanship team as well.