Natalia Grodzki’s second-half goaltending leads to draw

By Nick Dench

With a second half riddled with penalty kicks, Quinnipiac (1-4-2, 1-0-1 MAAC) managed to leave the game against Siena (4-5-1, 0-1-1 MAAC) with a 1-1 draw.

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The first half was controlled by the Bobcats and led by senior midfielder Aine McKeever (Derry City, Northern Ireland) who was a force to be reckoned with all over the field. McKeever drew a corner for the Bobcats after a Saints defender tipped her free kick.

Later in the half McKeever made an impact defensively, heading a dangerous cross out of the box and starting a counter attack.  McKeever also put a corner kick attempt on target that nearly beat the Saints’ goalkeeper, Taylor Booth.

After holding the Bobcats scoreless in the first half, the Saints stepped it up and started applying pressure to the Bobcats. Taylor D’Alfonso ripped a shot at the top of the eighteen-yard box that goalkeeper Natalia Grodzki (Bartlett, Ill.) made a spectacular diving save to keep the game scoreless.

The Saints took the first of three penalty kicks in the second half after Taylor Healey (Milford, Conn.) was forced to take out Brittany Pfaff with a slide tackle in the box. Pfaff did not get as much power behind the kick and Grodzki made another diving save this time to her right.

After being dominated for most of the second half, the Bobcats found a second wind 30 minutes in. After three quality opportunities were blocked away, the Saints counter-attacked and drew another penalty kick, caused by a handball in the box. Tara Sobierajski took the penalty kick for Siena this time and scored on her second kick after the being told to retake the kick because of another Siena player jumping into the box too soon. Sobierajski put the ball into the top left corner to put the Saints ahead with 15 minutes remaining in regulation.

Quinnipiac came back with more energy and they drew a free kick, which led to a third penalty kick of the half, this time for Quinnipiac. Along with the penalty kick being awarded with six minutes remaining in regulation, Booth got a rare yellow card. McKeever took the penalty kick for the Bobcats and deposited it into the bottom right hand corner of the net to tie the game at one.

“Considering we were one-nil down with seven minutes to go, we were a little bit fortunate with the penalty,” head coach Dave Clarke said.

Siena made one last bid to win the game with four minutes left in the second overtime after some miscommunication by Grodzki and Healey. Pfaff mishit the shot and Beck Kiting (Canberra, Australia) stopped the ball just short of the goal line clearing the ball out of danger.

“In a conference game it’s a more important when you go into overtime not to lose,” Clarke said.

Quinnipiac remains undefeated in their short existence in MAAC play going into their third MAAC contest against Rider on Saturday.