CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The Castleton women's soccer team became the first team all season to score two first-half goals against nationally-ranked MIT, but the Engineers pulled away with five unanswered goals to defeat the Spartans, 7-2, Saturday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Steinbrenner Stadium.
Castleton, making its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, concludes its season 11-8-2 overall. No. 13 MIT improves to 19-1-1 and advances to the second round of the bracket with the win.
MIT claimed a 1-0 lead after a strong cross came into the box and forced an own goal at 11:54 of the opening half. 42 seconds later, however, Castleton knotted the score at 1-1. Bronwen Hopwood raced down the field, cut through the back line, and sent a low shot inside the left post on the Spartans' first shot on goal of the match.
The Engineers answered after a stretch of three straight corner kicks from Emily Berzolla. The Spartans buckled down on the first two, but the final cross was headed directly to the back of the net by Olivia Struckman at the 19:50 mark of the half.
Castleton once again battled back to level the match at 2-2 after a foul set Kaitie Sanders up with a free kick from just outside the box. She sent a low shot through traffic that forced MIT keeper Lily Mueller to leave her feet and make a diving save, but Mikayla Sullivan was at the doorstep and fired a shot top shelf for the rebound goal at 29:55.
The level match was brief once again, as MIT netted a pair of goals 1:23 apart to open a 4-2 lead at halftime. Berzolla earned a penalty-kick goal at 32:06, before Claire O'Callaghan finished a cross from Berzolla to give the Engineers a two-goal advantage at the half.
The Engineers continued to press in the second half, holding Castleton at bay and adding two quick goals to pull away. O'Callaghan capped the scoring with her second goal of the match in the 81st minute as MIT earned the 7-2 victory.
All seven shots by Castleton were on goal, but MIT held a 13-7 advantage in shots on goal for the match. Kiley Baran finished with six saves for the Spartans and Mueller stopped two shots in the win for the Engineers. Corners finished 10-0 in favor of MIT, while the Spartans committed 10 fouls to the Engineers' 11.