In a dramatic finish, women's soccer falls to Castleton State in ECAC Quarters

Melissa Darling '16 (photo by Sportspix/Jan Volk)
Melissa Darling '16 (photo by Sportspix/Jan Volk)

WALTHAM, Mass. — The final quarterfinal of the 2013 ECAC Division III New England Women's Soccer tournament provided numerous dramatic moments tonight in sub-freezing weather. Second-seeded Brandeis and seventh-seeded Castleton State saw three goals scored in the final five minutes of regulation, including a CSC equalizer with less than 30 seconds left to force a 2-2 tie. After two scoreless OTs, the visiting Spartans completed the comeback with a 5-4 win in penalty kicks. CSC (13-8-2) will advance to the ECAC Tournament semifinals to play third-seeded Wheaton College, while Brandeis (10-6-3) sees its season come to a close.

      For a long time, it looked as though at 36th-minute goal would hold up for Brandeis. Junior Sapir Edalati (Great Neck, N.Y./Great Neck South) poked home her ninth goal of the season after the ball was crossed by sophomore Melissa Darling (Weymouth, Mass./Weymouth) and touched through the six-yard box by rookie Michaela Friedman (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y./Comsewogue). The assist was the first point of Friedman's career, while Darling picked up her second helper of the campaign.

      Though Brandeis dominated the proceedings early in the second half, Castleton State rookie goalkeeper Jessica Binkowski (Goshen, Conn./Wamogo Regional) kept her side in the game with two terrific early saves, on an attempt by sophomore forward Holly Szafran (Newton, Mass./Newton North) in the 50th minute and a breakaway on Edalati in the 52nd minute.

      The Judges kept up the pressure, allowing the Spartans just one shot in the first 35 minutes of the second stanza, but the visitors gained momentum in the final 10, sparking the wild finish. With 4:13 left on the clock, CSC's leading scorer sophomore Mallory Costello (Vernon, N.J./Vernon Township) equalized when she knocked home a long throw-in by classmate Jenna Bostwick (Pembroke, Mass./Pembroke). Costello's goal was her 19th of the season, while Bostwick gained her ninth assist.

      Brandeis responded as Darling got a shot off with less than four minutes remaining, but was denied by Binkowski. With the clock reading 2:15, the Judges looked to have the game-winner on Darling's second assist of the night. After the ball was batted around the 18-yard box, she was able to shake free and touch it across the wide open goal mouth to Szafran, who buried her fourth goal of the season.

      CSC didn't stop fighting, using more long throw from Bostwick to keep pressure on with her throw-ins covering large chunks of real estate. It paid off, as the visitors earned a corner kick with just over 30 seconds remaining. In the ensuing scramble, rookie Dominique Valencias (Massena, N.Y./Massena) played the ball back to classmate Bri DiPhillipo (Falmouth, Maine/Falmouth). A defender playing forward as the Spartans tried to find more magic, DiPhillipo chipped the ball over Brandeis junior netminder Michelle Savuto (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) for her first career goal with just 25.6 seconds remaining in regulation.

      Brandeis controlled the two overtime periods, outshooting Castleton, 7-0, but Binkowski saved six of them, though many were straight-forward stops, including two each on defenders Emma Eddy (Hinesburg, Vt./Champlain Valley Union) and Kelly Peterson (Houston, Texas/Clear Lake). Binkowski finished with a whopping 21 saves to help force the game to PKs. Brandeis outshot CSC, 36-10, for the game.

      In the PK session, the sides each made their first and missed their second attempts, with Binkowski making the first save, while the Spartans missed wide. After two more makes, Brandeis hit a cross-bar and CSC converted for a 3-2 lead. Szafran followed with a tying kick, but the visitors could have clinched in the fifth round when Savuto made a sprawling stop of her own. Both sides made their PKs in the sixth round, but in the seventh, Brandeis's attempt from the spot hit the crossbar and deflected high, while Spartan senior Kelsey Lenney (Coxsackie, N.Y./Coxsackie-Athens) converted into the middle right of the net when Savuto guessed left, clinching the win.