by Khalid El-Arini

The Carnegie Mellon women?s soccer team won two important conference match-ups this weekend, as they defeated the University of Rochester and Case Western Reserve University. The Tartans? record is now 2?1?1 in the University Athletic Association (UAA), and 8?1?3 overall. Their seven points put them in a good position in the top-heavy UAA standings.
On Friday, Carnegie Mellon hosted the 23rd ranked Rochester Yellowjackets, and handed them their first conference loss of the season (2?1 UAA, 6?2?3 overall). The cold weather and wet turf seemed to make for a faster than usual field, but this was no barrier to the Tartans, who soundly defeated a well-coached, highly skilled soccer team to get their first UAA win of the year.
Carnegie Mellon came onto the field ready to play, and scored 48 seconds into the game. A perfectly placed cross from first-year fullback Amanda Rose allowed junior forward Kristin Bevilacqua-Linn to head the ball past the Rochester goalkeeper and into the back of the net. However, the home squad enjoyed the early lead for only eight minutes, as a Rochester free kick from 25 yards out snuck inside the far post to tie the game.
The Tartans maintained their poise and continued their balanced attack. Just over a minute after Rochester?s goal, junior forward Hallie Dumont?s excellent ball-work and hustle along the right sideline forced the Yellowjackets to give up a corner. Rose took the kick, and logged her second assist of the night as the ball found the head of sophomore fullback Andrea Maresca, who hit it into the goal to give Carnegie Mellon a 2?1 lead.
In a bizarre situation, the referee stopped the clock in the 13th minute at the request of Rochester head coach Terry Gurnett, who had gotten into a verbal altercation with a belligerent ballboy. When the situation was resolved, the Tartans picked up where they left off, and continued to test Rochester?s back line. In the 23rd minute, another great cross from Rose led to yet another Tartan goal, this time off the head of sophomore midfielder Ashley McMakin.
With less than four minutes left to play in the first half, good teamwork from junior midfielder Nadya Yaghoubi and first-year forward Kasey Stever along the left sideline almost led to a fourth goal for the Tartans, but Carnegie Mellon went into the half up 3?1.
The second half was dominated by close calls on both sides of the field. In the 57th minute, Rochester had a fast break on goal, but senior goalkeeper Megan Monroe came out of the box to kick away the Yellowjackets? chance. Fifteen minutes later, Stever drew Rochester?s goalkeeper several yards out of her box, and then beat her down the left sideline, but was only able to hit the side netting. In the 82nd minute, Rochester?s keeper mishandled the ball, and Yaghoubi nearly scored but was unable to get the ball past the keeper?s outstretched arms. The game ended 3?1 for Carnegie Mellon.
The Tartans lost their previous home game coming into this weekend, so this victory was sorely needed. ?We were sick of losing,? said Bevilacqua-Linn. ?We beat them on their home field last year in overtime, so we knew they were going to come out strong. We pumped ourselves up and knew we couldn?t let them take the game on our field.?
Head coach Heather Kendra was ecstatic after the game, calling it ?our finest performance to date.? She said, ?Our defense has been stellar, and the attack was dynamic, and we took risks. We knew Rochester had a good team, so we came out strong and put them on their heels.?
Yesterday, on a chilly Pittsburgh morning, Carnegie Mellon hosted the Case Western Reserve University Spartans, and defeated them by a final score of 1?0. It was a physical game that the Tartans dominated on the field, but not on the scoreboard until very late.
?Case was struggling both in terms of skill and adjusting to the speed of the turf, so it was just a matter of CMU taking control and getting the job done,? said Tartan alumna midfielder Merry McConnochie.
In the 15th minute, junior fullback Margaret Beck had a good chance along the right sideline, but hit the side netting. In the 28th minute, Stever nearly beat Case Western?s goalkeeper to the ball but arrived a fraction of a second too late to convert what would have been a sure goal. Shortly thereafter, first-year fullback Emily DeCicco hit a nice ball downfield to Dumont, who centered it back to sophomore midfielder Lisa Pascoli, who struck the ball off the post. Stever had another opportunity in the 36th minute on a fast break, but her shot sailed over the goal. At halftime the game was scoreless.
The Tartans began the second half where they left off, outplaying Case Western but unable to get a good shot on goal. As the half progressed, a sense of urgency seemed to propel the home squad to push their attack forward, resulting in more chances for the Tartans. In the 66th minute, sophomore midfielder Jillian Erickson had an excellent cross from the right side that found Pascoli, but her shot hit the post. With less than nine minutes left in the game, Dumont broke free for a one-on-one chance with Case?s goalkeeper, but the shot was saved. Dumont kept at it, and three minutes later, hit a well-placed cross to Bevilacqua-Linn, whose perfect header found the back of the net for the game-winning goal.
?It was a really hard game; we may have underestimated Case,? said Dumont. ?We didn?t want to go into overtime again, so we worked really hard in the last ten minutes to make sure we got the goal.?
?I?m glad we were able to tough it out and win,? added Kendra. ?It?s hard to come back and play the next game after an emotional win, but this showed the gritty quality of our team. We were able to grind it out and come through with the win.?
The Tartans will travel to Erie, Pennsylvania, on Thursday to face Penn State Behrend.