BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Junior forward Kirsten Schall has shined all season, and nothing shined brighter on Wednesday at the HUB Quad than her Golden Goal in the Moravian College women's soccer team's 2-1 overtime defeat of rival Muhlenberg College.
The victory moves the Greyhounds to 7-9-2 overall this season, in addition to giving Moravian a 3-2 lead on the 2013-14 Matte Award scoreboard against the rival Mules.
The Greyhounds again found themselves in a precarious position, going down a goal against Muhlenberg in the first half. The Mules scored in the 8th minute and held the Hounds scoreless headed into halftime.
That's when the Moravian women learned a lesson in respecting their elders.
A trio of women's soccer alums, Stevie Ochse '01, Carli Miller-Henichek '00 and Neali Miller-Feimster '02, were present at Wednesday's game. With the team down 1-0 and in need of a pick-me-up, head coach Brienne Smith asked the former Hounds to speak to the team during the intermission.
"All three of them said how much they dislike Muhlenberg," Smith said. "Stevie said you have to play with passion and heart out there, because she would kill for the chance to get back out there. 'Now's the time to accomplish everything you are able to', they said."
"One of them told us how the Muhlenberg goalie punched her in the face," Schall said after pulling herself from the bottom of a celebratory Greyhound dog pile. "Carli said, '13 years later and I'm still irratated about it!' It really got us fired up. We made them proud."
Moravian got the equalizer in the 57th minute after a series of passes moved the Greyhounds up the field. Senior midfielder Taylor DiSora made a cut inside the Muhlenberg box and rocketed a shot, which was saved by the Muhlenberg goalkeeper and rebounded back into play.
Senior forward Caroline Clark was there to clean it up for her third goal of the season, bringing the score to one apiece.
"It was a great buildup play," Smith said. "Our style of play is possession, and that was a complete buildup from the back, to the shot, to the goal. We talked about putting the money where their mouths are. I told them if they did their part, they will win this game. They stepped it up and played with so much passion."
The score would remain deadlocked at the end of 90 minutes, but Schall only needed 24 more seconds to send everybody home.
The junior striker beat a defender after the overtime kickoff and powered a left-footed shot from 20 yards out over the Mules' keeper for the Golden Goal.
"It was amazing," Schall said. "It happened so fast, I barely knew what was going on. I was a little nervous in overtime, and I passed the ball to Muhlenberg on our kickoff, and said, 'Oh, great start.' Then we still had the momentum from the second half, and we were all fired up and ready to just dominate them."
The Moravian victory over its archrival boosted morale and it came at the perfect time. The win launches them toward a Saturday Landmark Conference matchup with Goucher College at noon on the HUB Quad. A win over the Gophers will punch a ticket to the Landmark Conference semifinals, which will be played on Wednesday, Nov. 6. A loss will eliminate the Greyhounds from contention, and a tie would only get them in if The University of Scranton beats or ties The Catholic University of America on Saturday.
Smith said there will be no butterflies in the win-or-(maybe)-go-home scenario.
"I think they love it," Smith said. "They know this is it; our fate is in our hands. I think this group loves that kind of pressure and they can certainly rise to it. It should be a great game."
Sophomore goalkeeper Jacqueline Zalis picked up her second win of the season after playing a scoreless second half and 24 seconds of overtime. She made one save and lowered her conference-leading goals-against average to 0.77 this season.
Moravian outshot Muhlenberg 16-8, with Clark leading the way with three shots on goal.