With the clock winding down from 10 seconds, senior forward Maneesha Chitanvis scrambled for a ball out of bounds, trying to get one last chance at an equalizer with a corner kick. Her cross was on target, but a desperate header as the final whistle sounded was grabbed by the Sacred Heart keeper, handing the Red a tough 2-1 loss on Friday afternoon in its home-opener.
The last-second opportunity was one of many that the Red (0-6) was unable to convert throughout the second half. The offense forced Sacred Heart’s goalie to make five saves on 12 shots in the second period, but only one of them found the back of the net.
Senior goalkeeper Tori Christ was the story of the first half, keeping her team in the game with five saves. Sacred Heart (3-5) controlled the ball for much of the first 45 minutes, keeping Christ on her toes. In the 27th minute, Christ made a leaping save where she got just enough of her fingertips on the ball to knock it off the crossbar and back into play, where a Red defender cleared it. The Red offense had only two shots on goal in the half, including a strike by Chitanvis straight into the goalie’s hands in the 44th minute, keeping the slates blank for both teams.
“Going into the second half tied at zero, you always have a good chance to win,” Christ said. “But the hardest parts of games are after stoppages, and that is what we have struggled with this year.”
With 45 minutes left to go, neither team had shown any signs of dominating the pitch.
“We were in a good place [after the first half], I thought we actually had a better second half but we have to convert on more of our opportunities,” Christ said.
However, just three minutes into the second period, Sacred Heart struck first with a strike from 18 yards out by Jennifer Mulvey.
The Red came back firing and found an equalizer just two minutes later. Chitanvis was fighting for possession of the ball in the corner when a Sacred Heart defender poked it out of bounds. Senior midfielder Xandra Hompe took the corner, playing a perfect ball in the air to the middle of the pitch, where it found leaping sophomore midfielder Claire MacManus for a header into the back of the net. It was MacManus’s first goal of the season, making her the 10th Red player to record a point this season.
“I think it’s always good to have a bunch of people contributing,” Christ said. “If someone is having an off day, we have many people to pick them up.”
The score remained tied for another 10 minutes before Sacred Heart struck again. A direct kick deflected off a Red defender back to Sacred Heart forward Kristen Verrette, who put a perfect cross from the left side to her teammate Dana Cosmedy, who was waiting at the net to put the ball in.
The Red was able to keep the ball in its half of the field for much of the rest of the game. With 20 minutes left in the match, the Red had an opportunity to equalize when Hompe’s pass through the defense found freshman forward Caroline Growney sprinting towards the goal. Growney’s shot bounced off the hands of Sacred Heart’s keeper, but the Red was unable to make a rebound.
“Getting more shots on net than they do is always our goal,” Christ said. “But it’s always about following our shots, we had that one good shot and the keeper rebounded but we couldn’t finish.”
The Red was back on the road Sunday with a trip to La Salle (5-3). The squad could not bring back its first win, falling 4-0 to a team that played in the NCAA tournament last year. Christ had seven saves in the game and senior forward Moonie Mancho had the Red’s only shot on goal.
Going into its first Ivy League game against Columbia this weekend, the Red is still searching for that first win.
“It’s obviously been frustrating, but for us it’s all about getting confidence and staying focused,” Christ said. “We’ve got to come in and compete regardless of the situation and make sure everyone is on the same page giving 110 percent no matter what the score is.”