Match Recap: Women vs. AC Connecticut

Written by Michael Lewis

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Lia Howard struck twice in the opening half off two fine assists by Alexa Vegoda as the Long Island Rough Riders women recorded a 2-0 USL W League victory over AC Connecticut to move back into first place in the Metropolitan Division at Mitchel Athletic Complex on Wednesday night.

The Rough Riders (8-1-0, 24 points) climbed over the idle Cedar Stars (7-2-1, 21). They also have a game in hand on the second-place side. Connecticut (4) dropped to 1-6-1.

If the Rough Riders can win their remaining three games, they can clinch the division title.

Goalkeepers Natalie Medugno and Mackenzie Sullivan combined for the clean sheet, as each one played a half.

Howard, a Massapequa, N.Y. native, scored her 11th and 12th goals of the season, which puts her among the league leaders.

Long Island attacked from the opening kickoff and rarely gave the ball away, outside of an errant or saved shot, in the opening 10 minutes.

Howard made goalkeeper Caitlin Murphy work early on, forcing her to make saves in the fifth and seven minutes.

The visitors finally got the ball past midfield for the first time in the 11th minute as Ella Gallino took their first shot on target, a low attempt that keeper Medugno easily gathered in.

Murphy continued to frustrate the Rough Riders as she denied overlapping right back Kimberly Marra in the 19th minute.

Howard, however, would not be denied in the 22nd minute as she headed in a left-wing cross by Vegoda from 10 yards into the right corner to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.

Only two minutes later, the two players combined for an even a better-looking goal. This time Vegoda lofted in a long feed from the left side that Howard headed past Murphy, who had come out of the net, for a two-goal advantage.

Jessica Garziano almost made it 3-0 in the 26th minute, as she found herself 1 v 1 with Murphy. She deked around the keeper and fired a shot at an empty net that bounded off the right post.

Sullivan, who replaced Medugno at halftime, came out of the net to deny an onrushing Brooke Sterry in the 69th minute to preserve the shutout.

A couple of minutes later, Howard came close to getting a hat-trick on another header, but Murphy saved that attempt.

Garziano’s hard shot from outside the area went wide left in the 77th minute. Ten minutes later, Murphy caught substitute Leah Iglesias’ shot from the left side. Another substitute, Olivia Pearse, made a run down the right flank and rifled a 25-yard shot wide of the target.

The Rough Riders hit the road to play at the Westchester Flames on Saturday at 3 p.m. before returning to Mitchel to welcome Paisley Athletic for its final regular season home match on Wednesday, June 28 at 8 p.m.


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