The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Women’s soccer defeats Colgate in rainy senior day match

Senior defender Lauren Cunningham threads the needle between two defenders during the Leopards’ win over Colgate. (Photo by Rick Smith for GoLeopards)

The women’s soccer team (7-6-1 overall, 3-4 Patriot League) overcame harsh weather and difficult field conditions to beat Colgate (3-11-2 overall, 2-4-1 Patriot League) 1-0 last Saturday at Gummeson Grounds. The win puts the team in the thick of the Patriot League playoff hunt, just one point out of a tournament berth with two games remaining.

The team celebrated senior night prior to the game, honoring goalkeeper Lindsay Dewar, midfielder Emily Coe and defender Lauren Cunningham for their contributions to the team. Cunningham, a regular starter since her sophomore season, reflected fondly on her career.

“The experience has been incredible,” Cunningham said. “Looking back on the teams I’ve played on and the coaches I’ve had all four years at Lafayette, I can honestly say that I’ve grown into a better player and person.”

Amongst all the festivities, however, the team remained focused on securing a crucial three points in a narrow playoff race.

“The league right now is separated by one to two points, so a win or a loss can make a huge difference,” Cunningham said. “We knew we needed to come away with these three points if we wanted a chance to make it to playoffs.”

The Leopards opened the scoring early in the first half when a bouncing ball found its way off a Colgate defender and into the path of Coe. Coe fed the ball to freshman forward Nadia Zaffanella, who arrowed a left-footed finish into the far corner for her fifth goal of the season.

“When [Coe] slipped me in behind, I don’t even think I looked at the goal. I just knew it was there,” Zaffanella said. “So far this season we haven’t lost a game when we’ve had the lead, so it’s been really important to score early.”

The Leopards looked to add to their advantage as the game progressed, but the heavy rain and muddy conditions made it hard for the team to execute its typical possession-focused play.

“We knew the ball was going to hold up and passes weren’t going to go where we wanted them to,” Cunningham said. “We’re a team that likes to play out of the back from our goalkeeper, but going into the second half we knew we couldn’t play that way.”

The conditions did not deter the Leopards from controlling the game, as they were able to dictate much of the play in the second half. The Maroon and White only surrendered two shots on goal, a defensive display that ends a poor run of eight conceded goals in the last three games.

“Our confidence with the ball was some of the best it’s been this season,” Cunningham said. “That definitely helped us make smart decisions.”

Zaffanella noted that the team has recently played better than the stat sheet shows.

“After playing Army, we finally started to feel like the team we were prior to the losses … even though the score didn’t reflect it, we played really well and that led us straight into the game against Colgate,” Zaffanella said.

The Leopards have two games remaining in the regular season — road matches against Bucknell (8-3-4 overall, 3-1-3 Patriot League) and Navy (6-7-3 overall, 1-6 Patriot League). With these potentially season-defining games on the horizon, Cunningham believes Saturday’s win puts the team in the best position moving forward.

“It’s a reminder that we can do this,” Cunningham said. “We’re still in this. We just have to keep putting our best foot forward, because we need these last six points. When we’re playing our best, we can beat anyone.”

Correction 10/20/23: A previous version of this article misstated the position of senior Lauren Cunningham in the photo caption. She is a defender.

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About the Contributor
Martin Familetti, Staff Sports Writer
Come On You Spurs.

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