Women’s Soccer Outlasts RIT 3-2 in Liberty League Battle

Women’s Soccer Outlasts RIT 3-2 in Liberty League Battle

ITHACA, N.Y. – The Ithaca College women’s soccer team continued its winning ways after sneaking by RIT, 3-2, on Tuesday afternoon, October 26 at Higgins Stadium. With the win, the 12-3 Bombers, who improved to 6-2 in conference play, are now in the driver’s seat to clinch the second seed in the Liberty League playoffs and earn a spot in the tournament semifinals. RIT falls to 9-3-3 on the season and 4-2-2 in Liberty League action with the defeat.
 
Ithaca entered the contest averaging 2.2 goals per game and the team exceeded that threshold offensively by producing three through regulation. Additionally, IC held the upper hand with 15 total shots, eight of which landed on the frame of the goal. That was the Bombers’ first victory over RIT since 2016.
 
Three Ithaca players stole the show by notching one goal each on the attack. Forward Alex Epifani continued to shine in her 2021 campaign, registering her fifth goal of the season in the opening half. Senior Megan O’Reilly and grad student Kelsey Espenhorst performed admirably as well, dialing up one goal each in the game. Midfielder Megan Buttinger was a force offensively, as the senior ramped up three shots-on-goal and one assist.
 
Defensively, goalkeeper Claire Reader played all 90 minutes and collected her twelfth win of the season after an impressive six-save performance from the net.
 
Just five minutes into the match, RIT forward Christine Cataldo-Smith powered the Tigers to an early 1-0 advantage. Off of a corner kick, defender Abby Umbenhaur headed a shot that deflected off of Reader and then Cataldo-Smith corralled the loose ball and booted the tap-in goal that trickled just over the line and into back-left corner of the net.
 
In the closing minutes of the first half, the Bombers finally broke the silence and had an answer on the offensive end with an Alex Epifani scoring strike in the 37th minute. The DeWitt, New York native pivoted around a defender and unleashed a perfect shot from the left of the penalty arc that hooked right past the diving goalie and into the lower right corner of the twine to make it a 1-1 ball game. Sophomore Rosie Bostian was credited with the assist on the play.
 
IC continued to shoot prolifically in the second half. In the 48th minute, Allison Heft launched a corner kick that floated into a sea of defenders. That’s when O’Reilly maneuvered into open space and fired the loose ball into the back of the net to give the Bombers their first lead of the contest.
 
The Tigers wasted no time responding offensively, however, as they swiftly stormed down the field and netted the equalizer just 30 seconds after trailing. The RIT goalkeeper surged a kickoff that sailed downfield and fell into the range of forward Emma Schock, who then did the rest by tallying a goal from 10 yards out to slash the deficit and even things at 2-2.
 
The Bombers offense did not die down, however, as they threatened several times in Tiger territory in the ensuing moments. Later in the stanza in the 60th minute, Ithaca had an offensive push and Buttinger sliced a crossing pass into the box off of a free kick. From there, Espenhorst headed the soaring ball and labeled home the shot on an electrifying play to regain the Bombers lead.
 
IC nearly added an insurance effort in the 79th minute when Buttinger fielded a crossing pass from the top of the scoring box and blasted a dangerous shot that was pounced on by the RIT goalkeeper.
 
The Bombers fought hard in the final minutes of regulation to maintain possession and bleed clock, which led them to secure their third consecutive victory.
 
Ithaca College will flip the script and turn its attention to Vassar College when the team welcomes them to Carp Wood Field for its regular season finale on Saturday, October 30. Kickoff is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.   
 

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