ANNAPOLIS, Md. – After allowing an early goal in the first minute of play, the Navy women’s soccer team mounted a second-half comeback on Friday to capture a 2-1 victory over Colgate at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility. The Mids (5-4-3, 2-2 PL) used goals by defenders Sadie McCaleb (Sr., Loganton, Pa.) and Tatum Kelly (So., Pinehurst, N.C.) to even their Patriot League record and defeat the Raiders (1-8-2, 1-3 PL) in a game that was moved up to combat the early effects of Hurricane Ian.

“We’ve been trying to focus on the process and being present in the moment because things will happen,” remarked coach Carin Gabarra. “We lacked fight and intensity in the first half. We had to get on the team at halftime, and they responded. We had some players step up; Sadie and Tatum came up from defense and scored our two goals. They came through in the big moments; that was huge! We found a way to get it done tonight. A turning point for us was that first goal. Our motivation got sparked even more. As a team, we played much better in the second half.”

The Mids had an extremely inauspicious start to Friday’s contest as the Raiders’ Ellie Stokes took advantage of a loose ball in the box and quickly ripped a shot into the back of the net just 30 seconds into the game.

Trailing 1-0, Navy could not gain much traction in its comeback attempt in the first half as the hosts only registered two total shots in the opening period with just one on target, a Katie Herrmann (Jr., Charlotte, N.C.) shot in the 13th minute. One of the Mids’ more threatening looks came in the 37th minute when McCaleb played a dangerous corner kick into the box that was errantly punched by the Raiders’ goalkeeper, Grace Poncsak, into a crowded mix of Midshipmen attackers and Raider defenders.

Coming out of the halftime intermission trailing by one goal, Navy immediately aimed at Colgate’s net as Jenna Daunt (Jr., Haymarket, Va.) tested Poncsak with a shot towards the upper-90 only 35 seconds into the period. Less than two minutes later, Mimi Abusham (Fr., Los Alamitos, Calif.) forced Poncsak off her line again with a low shot on frame.

Credit: Max Bueno

The Mids’ third shot on goal of the half paid dividends as McCaleb one-timed a weak Raider clearance from 25-yards out and rocketed a low line drive shot that blistered through the Colgate defense without even touch by Poncsak at 50:57.

Energized by the first goal of McCaleb’s career, Navy recorded three more shots over the next 12 minutes.

Mattie Gallagher (Jr., Gilbertsville, Pa.) came through with a clutch save for the Mids in the 68th minute to hold onto the 1-1 tie as Sara Anelli’s shot deflected off a Navy defender and bounded through the box before Gallagher dove to her left to snag the ball.

Still knotted at 1-1, the freshmen duo of Abusham and Isabella Romano (Fr., Syosset, N.Y.) ran off consecutive scoring opportunities for Navy in the 75th and 80th minutes, respectively. Abusham’s one-timer missed just wide before Romano’s attempt rang off the right post.

The Mids’ tenacity eventually paid off in the 87th minute when Chloe Dawson (Jr., Fairfax, Va.) lofted a high free-kick into the box from 40 yards out. With the ball in the air, Kelly leaped up over the nearest Raider defender and flicked a header into the top right-90 of the goal mouth at 86:39.

Gallagher’s seventh save of the game in the 88th minute helped Navy hold on for the 2-1 victory.

For the game, Navy outshot Colgate, 13-12, though the Raiders put eight of those attempts on goal versus five for the Mids. Colgate also held a significant 10-2 advantage in corner kicks.

“Bella Romano is starting to step in and do some nice things for us up front,” said Gabarra. “She’s creating chances, moving the ball well, and making things happen. Mimi Abusham is doing the same; she’s a good playmaker under pressure. They both help us create attack moments when we need it. Rylee Rives gave us a very solid performance in the midfield again. Sadie stepped up and scored a great goal for us.”

Navy will continue Patriot League action next Friday with a road matchup at Lehigh. Kickoff between the Mids and Mountain Hawks is slated for 5 p.m. in Bethlehem, Pa.

“We’ve got some work to do to keep improving, but those were some tough conditions out there tonight,” said Gabarra in closing. “Additionally, we had to balance the pressures of exam week here at Navy. We found in the second half that we need just to step up, do the work, and get the job done.”

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