CASTLETON, Vt. – Dallas Brodhead scored a late second-half goal and it proved to be the game-winning tally as the Castleton women?s soccer team came away with a 2-1 victory over visiting Husson Sunday afternoon in a North Atlantic Conference matchup at Spartan Stadium.
With the win, Castleton improved to 9-7-1 overall and sustained its standing in the conference with an 8-1 mark against NAC foes. Husson fell to 7-6-1 on the season and 6-2-1 in conference play following the loss. The Spartans have earned a bye in the first round of the NAC Tournament and will host the semifinal matchup on Tuesday, Oct. 31, against the winner of third-seeded New England College versus sixth-seeded UMaine-Farmington.
After a scoreless first half, both teams came out looking for the advantage entering the final 45 minutes. Castleton struck first after forcing a foul inside the box. Rylee Nichols was awarded a penalty kick, and she delivered with a low shot inside the right post to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead in the 52nd minute.
Husson did not go away, however, netting the equalizer with just under 13 minutes left in regulation. Leah Hibbad notched her NAC-leading 20th goal of the season after spinning around a defender at the top of the box and bending a high shot to the top right corner of the net to level the match at 1-1.
Castleton continued to press and forced a turnover late in the match, preventing Husson from clearing it out of its zone. Brodhead controlled the loose ball in the center of the box, turned and fired a low shot that slipped past Eagles' keeper to give the Spartans a 2-1 advantage with 9:55 left in regulation. The Spartans played strong defense down the stretch, preventing Husson from gaining any chances on the offensive end as Castleton went on to earn the 2-1 victory.
It was a defensive battle in the opening half as neither side was able to establish an offensive opportunity. Castleton earned a pair of chances on corner kicks from Kaitie Sanders, and Makenzi Bellando earned a free kick from just outside the box, but the Husson defense held. Sami Ireland made one save in the half for Husson.
The Eagles' best chance of the opening period came when Hibbad found Myra Degre streaking down the near sideline, but Mikayla Sullivan made a strong defensive effort to force a tough-angled shot that sailed wide in the late stages of the first half. Spartan keeper Kiley Baran registered two saves in the half to keep the game scoreless after 45 minutes of action.
Baran finished the match with six saves to improve to 9-3 on the season in goal. Ireland stopped two shots but fell to 7-5-1 after the loss in goal for Husson. The back-and-forth match finished with shots 9-7 in favor of Husson. The Spartans held an advantage in corner kicks, 5-2, while Castleton committed 10 fouls to the Eagles' eight.
The Spartans will wrap up their regular season on Wednesday when they host Keene State in a non-conference matchup starting at 6 p.m.