Huskies avoid loss to River Hawks despite barren scoreboard

Neither NU or UMass Lowell finished with a goal Sunday despite two overtime periods.

Neither NU or UMass Lowell finished with a goal Sunday despite two overtime periods.

Peyton Doyle, news correspondent

The Northeastern Huskies (0-1-1) and the UMass Lowell River Hawks (0-0-1) women’s soccer teams had opportunities late in Sunday’s game and actually found the back of the net at times, but neither finished with a goal at the end of the second overtime period. Lowell saw two second-half goals waved off due to offsides calls and Northeastern had their game-winner ripped away in overtime as it was announced that senior forward Chelsea Domond’s goal had actually entered the goal from the side of the net. 

Despite the draw, the River Hawks dominated the Huskies in possession throughout the entire game. However, they did not force sophomore goalkeeper Angeline Friel to make a save until the second half, as the defense in front of her acted as a brick wall.

Lowell threatened often, patiently waiting for openings in the NU defense. When they got the ball in the box, the stout backline was there to stop the attack. Sophomore defender Jane Kaull and three-time All-CAA first-team defender Julianne Ross each came up with huge blocks in the first half to keep the game scoreless.

In her pregame interview, head coach Ashley Phillips saw her opponent’s style of play as potentially advantageous for her squad. 

“They look to break teams down defensively with possession and I think that suits us. It can allow us to get more comfortable on the ball and similarly they will try to defend as a unit in a block almost and we are excited to maybe see a different style of play and how we face that and how the girls can adapt to that,” she said.

Even though Phillips knew that Lowell would be playing possession heavily in the match, she could not have expected the extent to which they were able to hold the ball. 

The Huskies’ attack was starkly different than that of their opponent. They never slowed down in the first half, pushing the ball upfield whenever they could but not being able to find their way into the box. 

On the offensive side, Domond and fellow senior forward Mikenna McManus moved with pace and menace. The duo battled with the opposing backline and threatened to score on many occasions but were thwarted by a stout River Hawk defense that refused to let any Husky into their box. 

Early on the teams’ energy and emotion were also strikingly different. Players like McManus, Domond and freshmen midfielders Eleanor Fisher and Gaby Scarlett bore down on any ball in their vicinity, throwing their bodies at their opponents and maintaining a similar physicality and tenacity to their game against UNH.

In their two games thus far, NU has lacked anything but emotion.

“They have been focused, they are committed and they are working hard,” Phillips said. “The effort and the attitude have all been there; it is really just the execution piece on gameday that is our next step.”

While the Huskies brought a similar intensity against the River Hawks they also brought their passing struggles from the prior game.

On several occasions, Lowell handed NU opportunities off turnovers but they proceeded to give the ball right back off a poor pass. In their first two games, this squad has shown its ability to get deep into enemy territory by taking advantage of their speed but has struggled to complete passes and find open teammates in front of the goal. 

The second half presented a greater challenge for the Huskies as the River Hawks came out firing and did not leave many opportunities for NU to score. The ball lived on the Huskies’ side of the field for the majority of the second half as their opponents continued their grinding high-possession play.

It was in the second half that Lowell really made Friel work, forcing the goalie to make a couple of unconventional saves to keep the score level.

The River Hawks changed their goalie at halftime from junior Farrel O’Shaughnessy to sophomore Taylor Burgess. Despite the substitution, the Huskies still struggled to find the back of the net. A large part of the shutout was due to the sharp backline of Lowell. NU got the ball to Domond and McManus but then struggled to get it past the opposing backs, especially senior defender Abigail Drezek who constantly hounded the Husky forwards throughout the contest.

With the seemingly impenetrable defense and persistent pressure of Lowell, the final 30 minutes of regulation and the succeeding overtime periods had NU holding their breath. 

The officials’ sharp eyes helped the Huskies in regulation, calling off a goal that freshman forward Calliste Brookshire narrowly snuck past Friel because she barely edged offside prior to the pass. 

Just as the officials giveth, they taketh away just as cruelly. Domond appeared to have netted a goal with just over a minute remaining in the first overtime period, but after a brief period of delegation, the officials waved that off too. 

Postgame, Phillips was still unsure of what really happened with that potential game-winner.

“I thought we scored a goal in overtime that apparently was called back but we will have to take a look at that,” she said.

Following the goal that was taken away, the Huskies were able to close off the River Hawks for the remainder of the game but the second period of overtime was costly. Ross went down following a collision and had to be carried off the field and senior forward Katarina Nilsson also hit the turf with an injury but was able to come off the field under her own power. 

While not getting the desired outcome, the Huskies were able to continue to show off their defensive skill and appeared more threatening offensively than they did against the Wildcats.

“Overall there was progress. The girls competed, they put in a really good shift and I think it was a good step from the last performance that we had and I am excited to get back out there and improve again on Thursday,” Philips said.

The Huskies will rematch against the River Hawks once more on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m where they look to get their first win of the season on home turf.