Women’s soccer breaks losing streak, pummels Pitt-Bradford


Buffalo State Sports Information

Sophomore forward Tianna Hatch scored two goals on Saturday, leading the Bengals to a 4-2 win.

Tony Callens, Staff Writer

After three consecutive close losses, Buffalo State women’s soccer broke their streak with a 4-2 offensive explosion on Saturday against Pitt-Bradford.

The win was important for the team, not only to break their losing streak, but to be able to bounce back from a tough 2-1 loss in overtime last Wednesday against Rochester. For head coach Nick DeMarsh, it was important on a personal level. Saturday marked the homecoming of Panthers head coach Mike Idland, who served as DeMarsh’s assistant from 2003-2007.

“It’s always an interesting matchup when we are facing him,” DeMarsh said, smiling. “There’s always that personal thing where you don’t want to give up a loss to your former colleagues.”

Buffalo State forward Melissa Smith had an emotional investment in the game as well. Smith transferred from Pitt-Bradford this season, and it was the first time she played against her former team.

“It was weird at first, but once the game started, I just wanted to win,” she said. “For me, the game meant a bit more since it was my old school. But as a whole, it was really a big confidence booster for the whole team.”

The Bengals dominated the game statistically, outshooting the Panthers 28-2, but found themselves down in the first half after Pitt-Bradford forward Kaitlyn Williams chipped the ball over the head of Buffalo State goalkeeper Erica Knudsen and into the back of the net.

It took just one minute and 12 seconds for the Bengals to respond when forward Tianna Hatch took the ball down the right side of the box, faked out one defender with a step-over, cut around the Pitt-Bradford goalkeeper and walked the ball into a wide open net to tie the score.

Six minutes later, the Bengals found themselves down once again after a cross was headed by Bengals defender Kristina Change, who was trying to clear it, but directed the ball backward and over Knudsen for an own-goal.

The game was a wild affair in first half at a rain-soaked Coyer Field. Pitt-Bradford had a 2-1 lead, but only had one shot on goal to that point.

“I’ve actually never been involved in a game where I was trailing 2-1 when the opponent had only one shot so there were a bit of nerves jangling,” DeMarsh said.

He got a response from his team once again six minutes later when junior midfielder Jenna Smolinski struck a pinpoint lob to her fellow midfielder Brenna Knight who received the ball right at her feet on the right side of the box, cut inside and curled a shot in the lower left pocket of the net to make it level at 2-2.

“I think the ladies are connecting now. We’re getting passes together and getting shots on net which is what we need,” assistant coach Francesco Cardillo said. “We spoke to them before the game and let them know that we need to get shots on net and they played very well, which created our chances.”

The barrage of goals in the first half was capped off in the 42nd minute when Hatch scored her second of the day after gathering the ball in the Pitt-Bradford box in a clump of players, taking a shot that deflected off the crossbar, then putting the ball in off her own rebound.

The Bengals took the 3-2 lead into the second half and held onto it. Smith put a ribbon on the win with one second left when she took off on a breakaway and guided the ball past the goalkeeper.

After having a couple of shots sail on her and an open chance in the first half in which she hit the post, Smith was overdue to put one in the back of the net.

“Everyone has games that you can’t seem to find the back of the net, but it was easy to refocus when we were winning, and I had the team backing me and pushing me forward,” she said.

DeMarsh is cognizant of the ups and downs of the season and isn’t discouraged by the string of losses prior to Saturday’s game.

“If you look at our last couple of losses, easily they could have been wins,” DeMarsh said. “Hitting the post, hitting the cross bar, not finishing our opportunities, these games are preparation for the league. The league is our focus. We want to do well in the SUNYACs. We need to eliminate our mistakes now and perfect our system now. Was this an important win? Sure, but this is all a building process.”

Next up for the Bengals is a match down the road at D’Youville, where they will take on another former Buffalo State assistant in head coach Lew Potter this Thursday at 7 p.m.