Women's Soccer Scores Late to Sink UMF, 2-0

Women's Soccer Scores Late to Sink UMF, 2-0

FARMINGTON, Maine – In a back-and-forth battle, the Castleton women's soccer team used stellar defensive play and two late goals to sink UMaine-Farmington, 2-0, Sunday afternoon in a North Atlantic Conference matchup at Bob Leib Field.

With the win, Castleton improved to 6-6-1 overall and 5-1 in conference play. UMaine-Farmington fell to 6-6 on the season and 3-2 in the NAC after the loss.

After strong defense kept the match scoreless for 80-plus minutes, Castleton finally broke the scoreless tie with less than 10 minutes left in regulation. Aubra Linn secured the ball on the right side and drove a cross to the front of the net, where Rylee Nichols sent a header over the outstretched arms of UMaine-Farmington goalie Kiana Thompson in the 82nd minute. Less than four minutes later, Makenzi Bellando lofted a through ball over the Beavers' defensive line and Bronwen Hopwood scored on a breakaway to double the Spartans' lead and secure the 2-0 victory for Castleton.

Castleton controlled possession for a large portion of the first half as the Spartans held an advantage in shots on goal, 2-0, after 45 minutes. Nichols notched both shots on goal but Thompson was up to the challenge. The Spartans played strong defense of their own as Kiley Baran never faced a shot on goal in the first half en route to a scoreless frame.

UMaine-Farmington picked up its offensive pressure in the second half with five unanswered shots on goal to open the stanza. Baran did not give in, however, keeping the game scoreless down the stretch. She highlighted the second half with a pair of diving saves on point-blank shots in the 61st and 63rd minutes to neutralize the Beavers' attack.

Nichols broke free twice behind the UMaine-Farmington defense but both of her shots sailed high. She came away with a free kick opportunity just outside the box in the 67th minute but Thompson came away with a strong save in traffic. The Spartans continued to create offensive opportunities late in the match and prevailed down the stretch. 

Baran finished with a career-high seven saves – all in the second half – to nab her second shutout of the season and improve to 6-3 on the year. On the other end, Thompson fell to 6-6 with seven saves in goal for the Beavers.

Castleton held a 20-11 advantage in shots, including 9-7 on goal. Corner kicks finished 4-3 in favor of the Castleton, while the Spartans committed six fouls to the Beavers' three.

The Spartans will return home for their final five matches of the regular season, starting with a non-conference contest against Middlebury on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Spartan Stadium.