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Women’s Soccer Team Loses 1-0 To Salem State in Tough Match

By Caitlin Murray
STAFF WRITER

The women’s soccer team sustained its fifth consecutive defeat in a heart-wrenching last-second 1-0 loss to the Salem State Vikings on Saturday with over 150 people in attendance, bringing the record for the season to 0–5.

The Vikings were aggressive from the start, driving into MIT territory on their first possession, past the fullbacks as they launched a high shot towards the net.

The shot was blocked by MIT goal-keeper Katherine A. Vater ’07. The ball tipped off her hands and rolled behind her towards the net, eliciting gasps from the crowd. Vater quickly regained control and made the first of what would be a season-high 11 saves.

After this attempt, MIT defenders Chi-Fong Wang ’07, Jodie Z. Wu ’09, Juthica B. Mallela ’06, and Mary P. Harding ’07 worked hard to keep the ball in Salem territory. Playing aggressively and not hesitating to take the Vikings one-on-one, they broke up play after play.

MIT’s best chance to score in the first half came 25 minutes into the game. The Engineers managed to battle their way into Salem territory, but the Salem defense regained control and was ready to pass the ball to the opposite end of the field when Diana K. Sterk ’06, surprised the defender and stripped the ball, passing it quickly to Courtney Rothrock ’06 waiting in the center of the field. But Rothrock’s shot went high, and on the subsequent goal kick, Salem regained possession and brought the play back to MIT territory.

MIT’s next big chance came just minutes before the end of the half, as Amy S. Ludlum ’08 charged down the field on a breakaway. Salem’s Jillian Rae broke up the play, gaining possession of the ball. Ludlum did not give up, boxing Rae in at the goal-line, giving her no place to go. As the ball finally rolled across the goal-line, the referee gave the ball to Salem, a decision that garnered loud boos from some of the MIT fans.

Salem had three corners in the half, but as one skittered across the heads of the Vikings offense and out on the other side, one bounced off the goalpost and out, and one bounced between Vikings and Engineers, like a pinball, before being driven back into Salem territory. The Vikings were unable to capitalize. MIT’s only corner came after a long punt by Mallela bounced off a Vikings defender, but this too came to nothing as the kick went past the net and out on the other side.

Going into the second half still tied 0-0, the Engineers seemed to tire substantially. Although they invariably seemed to beat out the Vikings when the attack was one-on-one, poor passing meant that they were simply unable to maintain possession.

Vater kept on her toes in the second half and showed her mettle, as she managed eight saves on nine shots-on-goal.

MIT’s offense, in the meantime, only had two shots on goal in the second. Ludlum and midfielder Andrea Bradshaw ’09 never gave up, staying on the offensive and not missing a chance to attack.

Bradshaw repeatedly showed off her speed chasing down loose balls. Ludlum, meanwhile, was the strongest threat to the Vikings, as she repeatedly drove down the field towards the Salem net, but just as often, the Viking defenders managed to break up the play.

With five minutes remaining in the game and still no score, the intensity increased palpably.

Salem’s Sarah Blackwell took the ball away from MIT, dribbled down the field into Tech territory, and passed to Ashley Bullock at the 15-yard line. Bullock was driven into the corner by Harding on defense. In a brilliant play, she passed it back to Lefebvre, who launched it into the air, tipped it off the outstretched fingers of Vater, and sent it into the far right corner of the goal to win the game with just 13 seconds remaining.

The game was surprisingly physical. The roughhousing started early on, with a trip by a Salem player. Shortly thereafter, MIT was called for tackling a Viking. With 10 minutes left in the half, Salem’s Ashley Whitlock shoved Wu hard to the ground after Wu managed to strip the ball from her. Two minutes later, another fierce shove by a Salem player went uncalled, which started the catcalls from the restless crowd. They became more vehement after Salem’s Theresa Lefebvre was penalized after she gave Mallela a quick elbow to the back. In the second, Salem’s Brianna McCarthy gave Sterk another elbow to the back. Wang was then called for the sliding tackle she used to knock Rae off her feet. Seconds later, MIT was called again.

The damage from this penalty was negligible, as Vater made an excellent save to keep Lauren Geibel from scoring on the indirect kick. Finally, with just a few minutes to go in the game, Harding body-slammed into Rae with such force that it took nearly 20 seconds for Rae to pick herself up off the field.

Surprisingly, throughout the course of this rough game, only one yellow card was issued, to Wang for her sliding tackle.

The Engineers, despite their record, have been improving as the weeks go by. Under the guidance of their coach, Krista Fulton, new to MIT this year after guiding Framingham State to the conference championship, the Engineers hope to notch their first win Tuesday against Fitchburg State.