The Long Island Rough Riders women’s season has officially come to an end following a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat in penalty kicks to Grand Rapids FC in the 2017 United Women’s Soccer National Semifinals on Tuesday evening at Grandville High School in Grandville, Mich.
Grand Rapids advances to the UWS National Championship on Saturday night against reigning champion Santa Clarita, 3-0 winners over Detroit Sun FC in the other semifinal.
Kimberly Marra and Madison Vasquez scored from the spot during the shootout for the Rough Riders (8-3-1), winners of the UWS East Conference, after regulation and overtime couldn’t settle a winner from the 2-2 scoreline. Grand Rapids converted three of its four attempts to win.
Francesca Venezia put Long Island ahead 2-1 in the 107th minute, but Michaela Kovacs scored the equalizer in the 119th minute to force penalties. With the score deadlocked at 1-1 in the second overtime, Marra unleashed a rocket toward goal that Grand Rapids goalie Reilley Ott pushed up and off the crossbar with the rebound landing right at Venezia. She headed the ball on net, but Ott made the follow-up save before Venezia got another bite at the apple, slotting it into the near post for the go-ahead goal. Kovacs scored a diving header at the far post 12 minutes later.
Long Island got off to a hot start in the game, taking a 1-0 advantage in the ninth minute on a goal by Erica Modina, who received the ball over the top, took a touch and flicked it past Ott. Kovacs attempted to clear the ball off the goal line, but the referee signalled for the goal.
The lead didn’t last long as the host Grand Rapids tied the score in the 16th minute on a penalty kick by Bethany Balcer, who had been taken down in the penalty box. The league’s leading goal scorer was able to find the back of the net, despite a great attempt by Rough Riders’ goalie Melissa Guglielmo, who got a hand to it.
The score stayed at 1-1 for the remainder of regulation.
Grand Rapids started the first overtime with a solid spell of pressure, but was unable to find the back of the net. The Rough Riders answered with their own spell, but didn’t score either.
It wasn’t until the second overtime where either team scored with Venezia putting the visitors ahead, but as was the case in regulation, Grand Rapids was able to respond.
BY: Michael LoRé