DANBURY, Conn. – The Long Island Rough Riders women struck for three goals within an 11-minute span on each side of halftime en route to a 3-0 USL W League victory over AC Connecticut at the Westside Athletic Complex on the campus of Western Connecticut State University on Saturday afternoon.
Nicole Bermudez scored two goals and Elizabeth Cruz tallied once and set up another for Long Island (5-2-1, 16 points), which began the day in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division. Connecticut (13) fell to 4-4-1.
Goalkeeper Alana Brennan recorded the clean sheet as she handled the few Connecticut opportunities as the defense held off the hosts from taking many dangerous shots.
“We did really well,” head coach Matt Lannon said. “Defensively, we set up to let them have it. We sat deep. When we won the ball, we had to play quick and get in behind them and we did that.”
Lannon praised the play of Michelle Wienecke and Salma Tarik.
“Salma held up really well and linked up really well,” he said. “Michelle did a ton of work in center mid. We pressed. When it came around the midfield, we won everything.”
The Rough Riders dominated the first half in possession and chances as Elizabeth Cruz dominated the left flank and team captain Kimberly Marra forced Connecticut goalkeeper Caitlin Murphy to make two saves in the opening 30 minutes.
The visitors’ hard work finally paid off in the final seven minutes.
First, Nicole Bermudez slotted home a right-wing feed for her first goal of the year in the 38th minute as LI grabbed a 1-0 lead.
Cruz doubled the advantage in the 45th minute, firing a shot into the near left post for her second goal of the season.
Brennan was called into action late in the opening period. After she fired a shot over the crossbar in the 34th minute, Skylar Jorge tested Brennan with a shot from outside the box that LI netminder saved three minutes later.
Bermudez added the Riders’ third goal in the 48th minute, heading in a rebound of Tarik shot that Murphy tipped off the crossbar.
With the contest played in 90-degree heat, game officials took no chances and decided to have four water breaks, two in each half – mostly at 15-minute intervals.
The Rough Riders will play two more road matches – at FA Euro New York on Wednesday, June 29 and Morris Elite FC on Saturday, July 2 – before they return home for their final two regular season games. They will host FA Euro New York at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y. on Saturday, July 2 at 3:30 p.m. and Westchester Flames on Sunday, July 10 at 4 p.m.