Viking lose late, slip in MASCAC standings

SALEM, Mass., Oct. 9th, 2016–The Salem State women’s soccer team suffered a late 1–0 loss to Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) opponent Bridgewater State at Alumni Stadium on Saturday to bring their overall record to 2–9–1. Bridgewater sophomore forward Kellsie Mitchell broke a scoreless tie in the seventy sixth minute of the match to improve the Rams record to 4–3–4.

Coming into Saturday’s match, both the Vikings (2–1) and Rams (2–0–1) were jockeying for position in the top half MASCAC conference, with Bridgewater holding a one-point lead over the Vikings. With a win, Salem State would have surpassed Bridgewater by percentage points to hold a “top 3” spot in the conference, keeping pace with Worcester State (4–0), Westfield State (3–1) and Fitchburg State (2–2), who all respectively tallied conference wins on Saturday.

Salem State freshman defenseman Casey McFall rips a corner kick in the second half of Saturdays match against Bridgewater State at Alumni Field on Oct. 8. 2016. The Vikings fell to the Rams 1–0. Photo: Larry Saggese

The Vikings squandered an important opportunity. They were out-chanced in both of the first and second halves and were outshot 14–8 in the game. The first 35 minutes of the first half was evenly contested with the Rams giving a good push in the final ten minutes, mounting a couple of shots against Salem’s sophomore goalkeeper Amanda Backe. The late surge gave Bridgwater a 5–2 shot advantage in the first half.

One of Salem State’s best chances in the second half was not to be, due to a controversial call. Salem State freshman Casey McFall drew a penalty in what was presumably inside of the Bridgewater State box, which would have resulted in a penalty shot. Instead, the official spotted the free kick outside of the box, resulting in a failed set piece between McFall and senior forward Victoria Clancy.

“She was definitely in the box,” said Salem State junior and spectator Brian Nicholl. “I was shocked that they didn’t call a penalty kick. Total momentum changer.”

Shortly after this exchange, the Vikings had two more legitimate scoring chances stemming off of a couple of tough-fought corner kicks. McFall whipped both corners into the box with the first boot resulting in Vikings second crossbar of the day.

“They just didn’t get the bounce, and Bridgewater pounced,” explained Nicoll.

And pounce they did.

Starting with a crossbar of their own in the seventy fourth minute, the Rams dictated the pace of play for the final 16 minutes of the match. After a solid five minutes of sustained Ram pressure, the Vikings defense gave up a goal off the the left foot of Kellsie Mitchell, who came into the game as a substitute just three minutes prior to taking and converting on her only shot attempt of the game.

After their go-ahead goal, Rams head coach Yasmina Carvalho was exuberant, urging her team to swing the ball and spread the field. They were able to slow the game down and limit the Vikings to just one shot attempt over the final ten minutes of play.

“This is a tough one,” said Nicoll. “It’s too bad they didn’t get that penalty shot, could have been a different game.”

Salem State will host Eastern Nazareth (3–9) on Oct. 11, followed by MASCAC conference opponent Framingham State (3–8) on Oct. 15 in their “Think Pink” game, where players will wear pink to raise breast cancer awareness.

Three of the Vikings five games are against conference opponents, but Saturday will be reflected on as an opportunity lost, a step back in what was a chance to keep pace.

Salem State senior captain Victoria Clancy sets up teammate Casey McFall on a set piece following a controversial free kick against Bridgewater State Saturday at Alumni Field on Oct. 8, 2016. A late score from Rams sophomore Kellsie Mitchell dropped the Vikings MASCAC conference record to 2–2. Photo: Larry Saggese Jr.
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