By: Desmond Boyle, Staff Writer
Towson wrapped up its nonconference schedule this weekend, extending their undefeated run to eight games.
The Tigers came out victorious 2-1 over Saint Francis in a double overtime thriller on Friday that saw close chances and great plays for both teams. Towson then played out a scoreless draw with tough opponents Penn on Sunday.
After the start of the game, with five minutes left in the half, Towson created its best chance thus far, as speedy freshman forward McKenzie McCaull competed with a Quaker defender for a through ball that was bouncing around in the Penn penalty area.
McCaull was able to put her laces to the ball and smash it into the net, only to then see the goal disallowed by the referee who claimed McCaull fouled the defender before latching onto the ball. Towson’s other chance in the half was a free kick taken by freshman forward Evelyn Neidert who curled her shot wide from 21 yards out.
After an uneventful second half, the Tigers pushed forward on a counter attack in the waning moments of the second overtime. Towson boomed the ball forward to senior striker Hollie Garber, who then sent it out wide toward Green. Green then powered forward to the edge of the area and looped in a cross that appeared to be going into the net, but Neidert made absolutely certain and headed past Penn keeper Carrie Crook.
The Tigers bench then ran onto the field to celebrate only to see their hopes dashed by the linesman on the far side who held is flag up, he ruled that Neidert was offside and Towson saw their second goal taken away. Towson stayed positive following the agonizing draw.
“These nonconference games are just to get us warmed up for the conference schedule so even though we didn’t win, we gained some experience and played well,” senior defender and captain Nicole Nicholas said.
Prior to the draw, Friday’s game started off well for Towson, as the Tigers pressured the Red Flash for most of the opening 20 minutes. Towson’s best threat came from the left wing as junior Marissa Green consistently used her pace and strength to beat defenders. Green outmuscled a Saint Francis defender seven yards away from goal to create the best scoring chance of the first half, before blasting her shot into the side netting.
As the first half came to a close, the game became more even in possession and chances to score were created for both sides. Towson had twice as many shots as the Red Flash and outnumbered Saint Francis with corners six to one.
The second half was a completely different story as Saint Francis had a much more sustained possession and clever play in the final third. The Red Flash forced junior keeper Taylor Sebolao into several diving saves. Saint Francis owned the ball for the first half hour of the second half, and constantly crossed the ball into the Tigers penalty area.
With all this pressure the Red Flash brought the game’s first goal just one minute after the hour mark. Gabi Morales of Saint Francis received a pass at the edge of the penalty area directly in the middle of the field. Then after dribbling for a few seconds to gain some space she ripped a shot into the top left corner of the net that had enough velocity to power past Sebolao’s fingertips.
After about twenty minutes of consistent pressure following the Red Flash Goal the Tigers finally got their reward. Natalia Pinkney, who created more chances as the game progressed, crossed the ball from three yards to the left of the Saint Francis penalty area.
The Red Flash defense failed to properly clear the ball, and the ball fell to Towson striker Hollie Garber who took advantage of the opportunity to score her first goal of the season. Junior winger Pinkney then ended the game in overtime with a weaving run, skipping past several defenders before ripping a shot from a tight angle into the net.
Pinkney said of the goal, “We were all just really tired after 105 minutes of playing and I said, ‘it’s time to finish this.’”
Looking forward to Towson’s conference schedule, head coach Greg Paynter laughed when asked about the biggest test in the CAA.
“Every game is a test, there are no easy games in our conference schedule and being on the road for those first three games is going to be a challenge,” he said in response.