By WOLVERIDGE LANGAN
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The rain never let up, and neither did forward Marla Roberts.
Roberts buried the game winning goal with less than two minutes left to play, helping the RIT Tigers Women’s Soccer team scrape by the Union Dutchwomen at Tiger Stadium Saturday afternoon.
“As Becky hit that ball through, and I ran on to it, all I’m thinking about is staying composed and this is gonna go in,” said Roberts, who added her second game-winning goal on the season.
A punt redirected by Rebecca Hext slid towards Roberts who turned past a Union defender and poked the ball outside of charging Kelsey Hartsoe’s reach, finding twine with only 1:15 left on the clock.
“Marla has a knack for end of game goals,” said RIT Head Coach Liz Masterson, “As soon as she was in behind, I think every single person on our team knew that ball was gonna go in the back of the net.”
The victory concludes the Tiger’s season, finishing 10-4-2, and grabbing the third seed for the upcoming Liberty League Tournament with a 5-2-2 conference record. The Dutchwomen fall to 6-8-2, missing out on tournament at 3-5-1 within the Liberty League.
“Nobody lost hope that we were gonna win that game,” added Roberts, “everybody trusted each other.”
Hartsoe made it difficult for the Tigers, finishing with 13 saves, including back to back corner kick defenses during a flurry of opportunities for RIT midway through the first half.
“I thought she (Hartsoe) did a tremendous job, and kept them in the game” acknowledged Masterson, who promoted peppering the Union goalkeeper in the downpour. “We knew that it was gonna be difficult for the goalkeeper to get her footing, and to move side to side, and to plant and change directions.”
Midfielder Emily Thiel led the charge for RIT with five shots, controlling the ball for a middle four who dominated possession start to finish. Rachel Strader and Lauren Zeglen both fired off tries in the first half, with Hartsoe jumping back to punch both over the net.
A lone chance to break the tie for Union came right at the start of the second half, when RIT goalkeeper Alyssa Salls mishandled a ball driven into the box. Linsey Giles connected on the bouncing ball for the Dutchwomen, sending it flying over the crossbar.
The Tigers took back control shortly after. Thiel and outside midfielder Danielle Losquadro championed multiple runs up the right side of the field. Mia White acted as their target player in the center, prompting multiple chances throughout the second half, including a backheel saved by Hartsoe from the six yard box.
“The worse the conditions, the better Mia will be,” said Masterson. White experienced more than her fair share of mud vying for the ball against the Union back four. “She did an awesome job frustrating the goalkeeper, and frustrating the backs.”
Roberts eventually swapped for White up front, who scored her team leading seventh goal of the season for the Tigers, who honored their seniors in the final home game of the regular season.
The RIT Women face Vassar in the first round of the Liberty League Tournament on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 2:30 PM at Tiger Stadium. The Brewers handed the Tigers their only home loss of this season back on Sept. 22, 2-0.