WOMEN’S SOCCER: Strange goal lifts Herons over Knights | Sports

WOMEN’S SOCCER: Strange goal lifts Herons over Knights | Sports

GENEVA — Overtime seemed like a certainty on Saturday afternoon at Cozzens Field. The William Smith soccer team and the SUNY Geneseo Knights were locked in a battle in which neither budged for 88 minutes.

With two-and-a-half minutes left and extra time looming, Herons first-year midfielder Nwabisa Qoba dribbled the ball up to the back line of the Knights and to the surprise of everyone watching the game, including her teammates, Qoba utilized a spin move that froze the defender before passing it out wide to Sheila McQuillen.

McQuillen saw she had teammates in the box and fired a high, hook-shot-esque ball that floated over every player and dove into the back left part of the net over the outstretched arm of the Knights goalkeeper to give William Smith (4-1-1) the 1-0 victory over SUNY Geneseo (4-2).

“I was just trying to get a shot on goal to test her,” McQuillen said of the Knights’ goalkeeper. “We kept kicking it to her hands so I wanted to just put a shot on frame and see what happens.

“We’ll say it was a shot,” McQuillen said with a big laugh.

The way that the Knights and the Herons battled all day, it seemed the deciding goal — if there was going to be one — would be a memorable one.

“All credit to Geneseo. That’s a fast, athletic team and they have a game plan: get it forward quickly and don’t give us time to press it,” William Smith head coach Aliceann Wilber said after the game. “We sorted that out better in the second half.”

The first half started out with the two teams battling for possession at midfield and as the game grew, the Knights looked to attack the Herons’ fitness as they were playing their fourth game in seven days.

“All of our opponents bring a different challenge,” Wilber said. “This was a different look from Geneseo with a different game plan and they had the horses to do it.

“You’re building a book of games, essentially. Each game is a different page.”

Despite the aggressive transitions from end to end, William Smith’s back line held strong and didn’t allow the Knights to get anywhere near the 18-yard box. That effort was spearheaded by sophomore Ava Brazie, who turned away every single counter that came her way.

“We’ve been working on our back line a lot in practice,” Brazie said. “We knew (Geneseo) was a good, fast, physical team; we knew we had to be the same.”

A few times in the first half, the Herons created quality looks at goal from the likes of Julia Keogh out front, Merilyn Hinrichs from the top of the box and Janne Knieke from a free kick that glanced off the post.

By the time the halftime break arrived, the Herons could have been up two or three to zero.

In the second half, a goalkeeping switch took place in William Smith’s end, which has been typical of late. Senior Amanda Kesler switched with sophomore Kirsten Nelson, who made a huge save early on. Off a bounce that came out to the top of the box, a Knights forward fired a volley with wicked spin that forced Nelson to dive to her right. Nelson got just enough of her hand on the ball that diverted it off the post and away from goal.

The Herons began exerting more pressure as the regulation time began dwindling, but all the Herons could muster were shots on goal that were easily saved by Mollie Collins.

It took a strange, lofted and dive-bombing goal to separate the two teams after 90 minutes of play. The Herons finished their week-long, four-game homestead going 3-0-1 scoring 13 goals and allowing just one.

Their next four opponents are all Liberty League foes, and Coach Wilber knows what the team must do to keep their momentum moving forward:

“Finishing … finishing, finishing finishing,” Wilber said with a smile.

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