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Women's Soccer

Navy Takes Star In Women's Soccer Thriller

Annapolis, Md. - The Navy woman's soccer team stunned Army with two goals in the closing minutes en-route to a 2-1 victory at Glenn Warner Soccer Facility on Friday. 

In a game that few of the over 2,200 fans in attendance will ever forget, the Navy women's soccer team pulled off a dramatic 2-1 victory over archrival Army in the 2018 Women's Soccer Star Game. Trailing 1-0 with less than eight minutes to play in regulation, the Mids (9-4-3, 5-1 PL) received a pair of goals from the New Orleans duo of junior CadieHigginson and senior EleanorPratt. Higginson netted Navy's game-tying goal in the 83rd minute before Pratt curled in the game-winner with just 44 seconds left to complete the comeback over the Black Knights (6-4-5, 2-3-1 PL).
"Tonight was a very well-played game by both teams," remarked head coach Carin Gabarra. "Obviously we gave up an early goal and it's hard to come back from something like that, but this is a group of players that will not give up; we've been that way all season. We continued to play and show patience. We played the ball well and created chances against a very good Army team that defended well. There was a lot of fight and spirit out there tonight. We had to fight to break them and kept at it. Eventually our resiliency and fitness paid off and we got two spectacular goals by Cadie and Eleanor! 
"We altered the style of soccer we were playing over the course of the game. Our formations, tactics and personnel changed. Wherever she was in the midfield Cadie was dominant! She won every 50/50 ball, every header, every challenge, every tackle she came out with the ball. She was spectacular! Eleanor had the game-winner, but she had other opportunities and did a great job of setting other people up and creating chances for herself. They both didn't just score goals, they both had outstanding all-around games!"
Friday night's game had an inauspicious start for the host Midshipmen as the Black Knights found themselves on the scoreboard just 72 seconds into the contest on the strength of a Morgan Walsh goal.
Down 1-0, Navy didn't panic and went about its way searching for the potential game-tying goal. Carolyn Mang (Fr., Forest Hill, Md.) was the first Mid to break through a compact Black Knight defense to test Sydney Cassalia in net. In the 35th minute, her shot from 20 yards out was handled by Army's sophomore keeper and the game continue at a one-goal margin.
In the closing minutes of the first half, Navy created two strong looks on goal from the wing. In the 41st minute, Avery Fries(Fr., Draper, Utah) took the ball up the left side before looping a cross into the box to Tori Mitchell (Fr., Wesley Chapel, Fla.), who flicked the ball to a waiting Anabell Motley (Sr., Asheville, N.C.) for the volley shot on goal. Unfortunately it was right into the arms of Cassalia. Two minutes later, Baseley McClaskey (Jr., Grand Junction, Colo.) served a ball into Higginson, who powered a header shot from distance just wide of the frame.
Disappointed, but not despondent, Navy went into the locker room down 1-0 at halftime though the team held an 8-5 advantage in shots and a 4-3 margin in shots on goal.
Knowing that they were only one goal away from tying the contest, the Mids kept up their resilient comeback push throughout the second half. The team collected the first 10 shots of the half to go along with numerous dangerous crosses. Army's defense and goalkeeper were up to the task for the first eight shots as Cassalia made three saves during this 37-minute run of second half play. 
Navy's fortunate finally changed with its ninth shot of the half at 82:18. After McClaskey worked the ball up the left wing, the Mids' leading scorer in 2018, shot a pass inside the 18-yard box to a waiting Mitchell, who calmly slid the ball to Higginson for a one-timer shot and goal from approximately eight yards out. The quick, crisp passing left Cassalia out of position to make the save and the game was now 1-1 with less than eight minutes to go.
Invigorated by the raucous crowd, the Mids knew the only thing left to do was to fight for that go-ahead goal. Navy continued to control the action down the stretch before McClaskey once again worked a cross in from the left wing with less than 60 seconds showing on the clock. Blocking a clear by an Army defender, McClaskey gathered the ball towards left sideline before quickly turning and whipping a square pass to a charging Pratt. Now in control of the ball, Pratt took two dribbles, crossed-up the oncoming Black Knight defender, took a step and connected for a curling shot into the upper-90 for the game-winning goal with 44 seconds left.
Army's last hope was a free kick from 30 yards out that sailed high over Navy's goal as the fans at Glenn Warner joyously chanted down the final 10 seconds of play.
In Navy's dramatic 2-1 victory, the hosts held advantages in shots, 18-6, shots on goal, 9-3, and corner kicks, 3-1.
Sydney Fortson (Jr., Claremont, Calif.) earned the win in goal with two saves.
The win improves Navy's record to 9-4-3 on the year and 5-1 in the Patriot League.
"Beating Army never gets old," exclaimed Gabarra. "This crowd was amazing. We can't thank them enough. The community, the Midshipmen, the staff, everyone who came out tonight was phenomenal. This was such a fun game and a fun atmosphere. This is a night the girls will never forget! In instances like tonight when you're down a goal early and you need to find a way to be resilient and a way to find the passion and intensity to get back in it, it's the crowd that brings you back. The crowd brought us back tonight!"

This win by women's soccer moves the 2018-19 Army-Navy Star Series scoreboard to 3-2 in favor of Army. Next up in the series are the men's and women's cross country meets at the USNA Cross Country Course on Saturday morning beginning at 10 a.m. The Star Series is presented by USAA.