WEST POINT, N.Y. – The 2022 Women’s Soccer Star Match went the way of the host Army Black Knights on Saturday night by a 2-0. Playing before a standing-room-only crowd at Malek Stadium at Clinton Field, the Mids (6-6-3, 3-4 PL) struggled to build long, controlled possessions. They were unable to produce many successful scoring opportunities. At the same time, the Black Knights (7-4-5, 5-1-1 PL) used goals in each of the halves to earn the Star and end the Mids’ three-game winning streak in the heated service academy rivalry.
Mattie Gallagher (Jr., Gilbertsville, Pa.) was a standout of Navy on Saturday night as she stopped seven shots on goal, including numerous sprawling saves.
“That’s a tough outcome,” remarked head coach Carin Gabarra. “Army created more chances; they won more 50/50 balls and had more desire than us tonight. We had good effort and intensity, but we couldn’t match Army. If we didn’t give up that goal late in the first half, we might’ve come out of halftime with a different mindset. That goal gave us a hole that we couldn’t dig out of.
“Mattie was outstanding and kept us in the game. She made some really difficult saves and gave us a chance.”
Energized by the game’s stakes, both teams started with active offensive attacks early. Army had the first look as Elise Urkov volleyed a shot toward the left side of the net in the second minute, only to see Gallagher stretch out and dive through the air to snag it. On the ensuing possession, Alexa Riddle (So., Tomball, Texas) aimed for the Black Knights’ goal, though her shot sailed wide right. Army took two more shots over this initial 10-minute run of play.
The host Black Knights recorded the next four shots, including a Keira Vesy free kick that challenged Gallagher to leap up and make a save in the 16th minute.
Navy’s next high percentage came in the 28th minute when Katie Herrmann (Jr., Charlotte, N.C.) dribbled deep into the box and had her shot ricochet back out to Jenna Daunt (Jr., Haymarket, Va.), who pushed aside just wide left.
With the game still scoreless, Army broke through in the 42nd minute as Brigid Duffy threaded a lead pass to Kaitlin Palaian, who didn’t miss her chance and deposited the ball in the back of the net.
Mimi Abusham (Fr., Los Alamitos, Calif.) looked to even the score over the final three minutes of play in half with a pair of shots; the first was a nifty one-timer volley inside the six of a Herrmann cross that was deflected late by an Army defender.
Down 1-0 coming out to start the second half, Sadie McCaleb (Sr., Loganton, Pa.) tried to spark Navy’s offense and even the score with a curling shot on goal from the top of the 18-yard box in the 55th minute. Unfortunately for the Mids, the Black Knights’ goalkeeper Sage Strohman was up to the task and snagged the shot.
Less than three minutes later, Gallagher ensured the deficit stayed at just 1-0 as she denied Duffy’s point-blank look with an all-out dive to her right. She continued aiding Navy’s comeback attempt with two more saves; a Madison Niebish shot on goal in the 67th minute and a Palaian attempt in the 70th.
The Army’s consistent pressure eventually resulted in an insurance marker in the 76th minute as Kaelen Bradley put away a rebound off Elise Urkov’s original shot.
Navy kept trying to break onto the scoreboard and showed a strong effort to the final whistle as the Mids took three shots in the four minutes following the Black Knights’ second goal and four shots overall in the final 14 minutes.
In the 2-0 defeat, Navy was out-shot by Army, 19-13. The Black Knights held a 9-2 advantage in shots on goal and a slight 7-6 edge in corner kicks.
Saturday’s women’s soccer match was one of three Army-Navy Star competitions. After a pair of wins by Navy’s two cross-country teams, the year-long Star Series presented by USAA stands at a 4-3 margin in favor of Army.
The Navy will be back in action in three days as the Mids will travel to Dover, Del. to take on Delaware State in a non-conference tilt on Tuesday. Kickoff between the Mids and Hornets is set for 5 p.m. at Drass Field on DSU’s downtown campus.