Festa, Babson Thwart Clark, 2-1
BABSON PARK, Mass. – Senior captain Amy Festa (Medfield, Mass.) recorded a goal and an assist to help the Babson College Beavers earn a 2-1 victory over visiting Clark University in a hard-fought New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) women's soccer showdown at Hartwell-Rogers Field on a rainy Tuesday afternoon.
Winners of four of their last five, the Beavers improved to 5-5-1 overall and 2-2 in league play, while the Cougars dropped to 3-7-1 overall and 1-3-0 in the NEWMAC.
Babson wasted no time in jumping out to a 1-0 lead, as Festa took a throw-in from sophomore Jessica DiPhilippo (Falmouth, Maine) down the left sideline and placed a perfect shot from five yards outside the box into the far upper corner for her fifth goal of the season at 4:38. The Beavers would go on to dominate the rest of the period, but the Cougars would still manage to tie the contest when junior Jenna Zarou's (Garden City, N.Y.) free kick from near midfield skipped past Beavers' sophomore goalie Elizabeth Estabrook (Falmouth, Maine) and inside the left post at 35:26. It was Zarou's second goal of the season – each of which have come in Clark's last two games.
The Beavers nearly regained the advantage in the waning minutes of the first half, beginning when senior captain Ashley Tourso (Glen Rock, N.J.) slid a short pass to first-year Kristina Simonson (Easton, Mass.) just outside the box. Simonson then blasted a shot from 22 yards out that found its way through the outstretched arms of Clark goalie Gabby Paolini (North Potomac, Md.), but the rookie keeper got just enough of it to push it beyond the left post with three minutes remaining in the period.
Babson had a prime scoring opportunity less than six minutes into the second session, starting when junior Mika Cucullo's (South Salem, N.Y.) cross from the right side got past Paolini and ended up in a crowd in front of the open net. DiPhilippo managed to get a shot off, but Cougars' junior Christina Mendoza (Holliston, Mass.) made a goal-saving block inside the six-yard box and Simonson's follow-up bid was saved by Paolini near the left post.
Both teams had dangerous chances midway through the second half. Clark's came in the 67th minute, when junior Janelle Pasternack (North Brookfield, Mass.) launched a shot from 20 yards out that was tipped over the crossbar by leaping sophomore goalie Melina Kapotsis (Watertown, Mass.). Babson then threatened to score at the other end when sophomore Avika Shah (Scotch Plains, N.J.) put on a shot on net off a nice cross from senior Kelly Hanly (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.), but her bid was denied by Paolini near the right post at 69:31.
The Beavers finally moved back in front with less than nine minutes to play in regulation, as Festa hit a corner kick into the goal mouth from the right side. Paolini made a diving play to knock it away, but Tourso was there to hammer in the rebound for her fifth goal of the season at 81:23.
Babson first-year Nikki Beatham (Pittsford, N.Y.) nearly made it a two-goal lead moments later, but her rocket from point-blank range off a loose ball in front of the net was caught cleanly by a diving Paulini at 85:05. The Cougars would be unable to take advantage, however, as the Beavers controlled the final five minutes of play to secure the 2-1 victory.
Estabrook made one save in the first half for Babson, while Kapotsis turned away two shots in the second stanza, including her sensational tip on Pasternack's bid in the 67th minute that proved to be the difference in the contest.
Paolini made a valiant effort in net for Clark, finishing with eight stops in defeat.