Women’s Soccer: Highlander Defense Comes Up Short Against Spartans

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By Jigar Surati

Last Saturday, the USC Upstate Spartans visited Newark to square off against the Highlander women’s soccer team in an Atlantic Sun conference game. Despite stellar defense displayed by all the members of the NJIT team, the Spartans shutout the Highlanders 2-0 after scoring a goal in each half.

The Highlanders showed amazing defense in the first half as they led in number of blocks and blocked shots on goal. They forced the Spartans out of bounds multiple times, causing the Highlanders to keep possession of the ball for the majority of the half. On top of this show of sportsmanship, NJIT goalie Samantha Bersett stonewalled Upstate, allowing the forwards Carly Berdan and Neema Liverpool to continue their attack without trepidation. Midfielder Arianna Gerber, who led the team in terms of steals, and the remaining defense squad worked tirelessly to beat back the Spartans multiple times. Unfortunately, after thirty minutes of play, Spartans’ Kate Winegarner scored an unassisted goal off of her own rebound.

Following this goal, the Highlanders turned up the heat for the rest of the half as they led in terms of shots on goal. They switched from a defensive playing mode to an aggressive style to threaten the Spartans veteran goalie, but to no avail. After the first half, the score remained 1 to 0. As the second half began, the Highlanders came out shooting. Ten minutes into the second half, a prospective shot after shot by Nicole Baldassini and Arianna Gerber were both stopped by opposing goalkeeper Ellen Bright. As a constant battle ensued due to a back and forth as the Highlanders pressured the opposition, keeping every player on their toes. In the 77th minute, the Spartans’ Carolina Keener slipped past the defense to score the second and last goal of the game.

The Highlanders continued to make insistent rushes at the Spartans’ goal, but were either stopped short by the defense or blocked by the goalkeeper. By scoring again 13 minutes before time, the Spartans gained the upper hand that solidified their victory. After the two saves during the game, Bersett’s career save total rose to 310 and save percentage to .775%.

After this shutout, the women’s soccer team record becomes 2-6, extended the losing streak to 5 games. On September 29th, they face the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds who currently hold a record of 2-7. This home game will be held at Lubetkin Field in Mal Simon Stadium at 7:00 pm.

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