Match Recap: Playoffs Women vs. Morris Elite

Written by Michael Lewis

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. – The Long Island Rough Riders women were eliminated from the USL W League playoffs, dropping a 3-2 decision to Morris Elite FC in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Tanner Field at the Mountview View Middle School a stormy and muggy Friday afternoon.

After a one hour and 45-minute thunderstorm delay that stopped the game in the 71st minute, Morris Elite scored twice in the final 14 minutes to overcome a 2-1 deficit.

Morris Elite reached the Elite Eight will meet the winner of the Eagle FC-Christos FC match, the second game of the doubleheader, on Sunday at 5:30 p.m.

Claire Manning’s second goal of the game knotted the game up at 2-2 in the 76th minute. Manning curled a 25-yard effort into the upper left corner.

Riley Cross connected on the game-winner, scoring from the left side in the 90th minute.

The Rough Riders could not find the equalizer in four minutes of stoppage time.

The much-anticipated confrontation lived up to its expectations between the two Metropolitan Division rivals. Both sides finished with 10-1-1 records, but Morris Elite was awarded the division crown due to a better goal differential.

Despite the high heat and humidity, the teams put on an entertaining show in the first half as there were plenty of scoring opportunities for both sides.

The game started slowly for Long Island as Morris Elite dominated the opening 10 minutes, peppering goalkeeper Natalie Medugno with six shots. But Medugno was up to the task and then some, denying Cross twice and Samantha Kroeger and Jessica Korman once each.

As well as she played, Medugno could not deny Manning, who latched onto a long pass, rounded the goalkeeper on the right side before tucking the ball into the net for her team-high 13th goal of the season to stake Morris Elite to a 10-minute lead.

That goal woke up the Rough Riders, who dominated the rest of the half.

They were rewarded for their superior play.

Nicole Gordon equalized, heading home a Jessica Garziano corner kick from the right side past keeper Arden Lembryk in the 13th minute.

The Rough Riders held the ball for huge amounts of time and their persistence paid off in the 35th minute as they scored from the run of play with the familiar combination of Garziano and Gordon. This time, however, Gordon set up Garziano with a through ball and she lifted LI into a 2-1 lead with a point-blank blast in the 35th minute.

The start of second half featured end-to-end action as both teams came tantalizingly close to finding the net. Garziano sent two shots just wide left, in the 56th and 63rd minutes.

Morris Elite’s Henna Andican came close herself as she ripped a shot off the right post seconds before Garizano’s second close encounter.

Four minutes later, Long Island defender Brittany Munson ran down Natalia Ramirez and denied the Morris Elite player a shot attempt.

Then came the long weather delay, which helped change the momentum of the match.


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