Prateek Chellani | Staff Reporter
The only way to win is often by not giving up, no matter how tough a situation gets.
That statement couldn’t be truer when it came to the University of Cincinnati Bearcats’ women’s soccer match against the Northern Kentucky University Norse on Sunday evening at Gettler Stadium in uptown Cincinnati.
It took the Bearcats 18 shots over the course of 98 minutes to breach NKU’s resilient defense and emerge victorious in the third ever annual Riverboat Rivalry game.
“It’s always challenging when you play a team like NKU,” assistant coach Gavin Macleod said. “Very organized, and obviously with them being just across the river, our players and their players are kind of familiar so there’s that local rivalry aspect to the game. We knew they were going to work very hard, especially on the defensive side of the game.”
The Norse’s hard work was apparent on the pitch, who managed to prevent UC’s offense, namely freshman midfielder Brandi Thomsen, junior forward Julia Abbott and sophomore forward/midfielder Sophie Gorman among others, from scoring in regulation time.
NKU goalkeeper Emily Lohmann made 6 saves during the game, taking her total to 17 in 4 games.
She was also aided by the woodwork, with freshman forward Vanessa DiNardo’s 22nd minute free kick hitting the crossbar. Less than 15 minutes later, senior midfielder Cassie Wheldon also rattled the post with a free kick from just outside the penalty box. The Bearcats continued to dominate the game and at the end of the first half had 6 shots, two of which were on target.
The second half only got better for those from the north side of the river, with the ladies recording nine shots in 45 minutes, in comparison to NKU’s solitary effort on goal, which came off the boot of senior midfielder Payton Naylor.
As the clock ticked on, it seemed as though it was only a matter of time before someone found a way past Lohmann’s net, but several great saves from the Cincinnati native resulted in the game being scoreless at the end of regulation time.
In the five-minute interval that followed, you could feel the tension in the atmosphere around Gettler stadium. UC’s loyal fans were starting comtemplate the fact that the program’s undefeated home streak that had started back in 2016 was finally coming to an end. According to Macleod, though, head coach Neil Stafford was undaunted by the crowd.
“It was just a message to the ladies to not get carried away by how much we had the ball, to not get frustrated,” Macleod said.
In the end it came down to the determination to win. NKU showed shines of brilliance once overtime began, but the bearcats continued to dominate.
Gorman almost scored in the 98th minute but her shot was just tipped over the bar by Lohmann, who looked determined to keep what would be her third clean sheet in four games this season.
The resulting corner, which was Cincinnati’s 10th in the match, was taken by junior defender/forward Dee Picou. While Picou had taken some corner kicks earlier in the game, they had failed to find their destination and were cleared away by the weary NKU defence. Nonetheless, the team was confident that one of the corner kicks might finally strike gold, and their optimism paid off.
Picou swung the corner in beyond the far post, where NKU junior midfielder Hannah Fischer jumped above Bearcats sophomore defender/midfielder Kiki Lowell and managed to head the ball away. The ball only went as far, though, as the ever-opportunistic senior midfielder Jill Vetere, who found some space and curled her shot into the bottom left corner, out of reach from Lohmann.
No sooner had the ball hit the back of the net, a massive uproar was heard across Gettler Stadium. The Barcats now sit at 3-1-0 and will travel to the University of Notre Dame next week to take on one of the top teams in the division.
“Huge game against Notre Dame, we’ll gear up for that,” Stafford said. “Just one game at a time, we’re a very young team and I’m happy. I think our style of play has changed a little, so we’re just going to keep building on what we’re doing.”
The Bearcats travel to South Bend, Indiana and will play at 7 p.m. on Thursday.