PAUL SMITHS - The Paul Smith's College women's soccer team won the Yankee Small College Conference championship in dramatic fashion Sunday, defeating top-seeded Maine Machias 3-2 in a shootout in Concord, N.H.
With a berth to compete in their second-straight United States Collegiate Athletic Association national championship tournament on the line, the Bobcats came through in a big way when Kadie Ouellette buried the winning shot in the ninth round of the shootout.
Paul Smith's defeated Unity College 6-3 on Saturday to reach the title tilt against Maine Machias. The Bobcats big guns, Nicole Landry, Jennifer Maguder and Elizabeth Matalavage, each scored two goals against Unity.
The match against Maine Machias turned out to be a back-and-forth battle, with Matalavage putting the 'Cats on the board first early in the opening half. The junior from State College, Pa. scored on a direct kick when she ripped a shot off the Clippers defensive wall, and the ball deflected high into the air and went over the keeper and into the net.
The Clippers tied the match in the opening period, and then tied it again at 2-2 late after Landry gave the Bobcats their lead back on a goal scored in the 70th minute.
The Clippers dominated play during two scoreless 10-minute overtime periods, but the Bobcats held on to reach the shootout.
"They outshot us by about a 3-to-1 margin in the game, and they outshot us 10-0 during overtime," Paul Smith's coach Dan Burke said. "We were basically blocking shots and clearing the ball and hoping for a break."
It marked the third year in a row that Paul Smith's and Maine Machias have battled in the YSCC championship game, with the Clippers coming out on top the last two times.
Burke said although his team was outshot by a wide margin, the Bobcats never really panicked during the match.
"We were never really trailing," Burke said. "We actually had good possession. They got a lot more shots than we did, but we were able possession-wise, take away their control most of the game."
Both teams scored goals during the first four rounds of the shootout, and Paul Smith's goalkeeper Asenath Brooks came up huge in the fifth round. Going first in that round, Paul Smith's came up empty on its kick. With the game on the line, Brooks, a junior from Colebrook, N.H. stopped the Clippers' fifth shot to keep her team alive.
"It was just ridiculous. It was tense," Burke said. "Each team buried their first four shots, and then we missed. Asenath came through for us. She made so many saves during the game."
Brooks was named the tournament's most valuable player, while teammate Caitlin Willis was named the defensive MVP. Landry and Rebekah Kruppenbacher also were named all-conference players for Paul Smith's.
"Before the championship match, our girls were calm," Burke said. "They knew what they had to do and they just went out and did it."
The Bobcats, who improved to 10-3, will now be heading to Charleston, W.Va. for the USCAA women's soccer national championships being held Oct. 30-Nov. 2.
The Paul Smith's men's soccer team is also hoping to receive an at-large bid to the national tournament after falling 4-1 to Maine Machias in a YSCC semifinal Saturday. The 'Cats men own an 11-2 record.