Albany, N.Y. - Makenzie Baratta scored her first career goal at the end of the first half and Ashley Tirabassi headed in an insurance tally in the second stanza to lead the UAlbany women's soccer team to a convincing 2-0 victory over Iona in its home opener at Varsity Field on Friday, Sept. 4. The Great Danes held a commanding 30-15 advantage in total shots, including 15-8 on net, while goalkeeper Cate Crenson recorded her first career shutout.
UAlbany (1-2), which had nine or 10 freshmen and sophomores on the field at the same time for the entire match, dominated from the opening whistle by taking seven of the first nine shots. The squad had its first major opportunity score when Kendra Harrell-Vigil's indirect kick in the 29th minute from about 40 yards away found Maggie DeVerna in the box. However, DeVerna's open look at the net was saved by Iona goalkeeper Kelly Mahoney to keep the match scoreless.
After misfiring on their first 12 attempts, the Great Danes were able to break through with a goal in the 40th minute. Despina Psomopoulos, the 2009 Queens Player of the Year, sent a pass from midfield down the right sideline in front of Baratta. The sophomore caught up to the ball before it went out of bounds and let it fly from the sideline about 25 yards away, dropping it in the far left corner of the net. Psomopoulos, who entered the match just eight minutes before the tally, was credited with the helper on the play to gave the Great Danes a 1-0 lead which they carried into the break.
UAlbany kept the pressure on early and often in the second half by peppering Mahoney with seven straight shots in the first 15 minutes. DeVerna almost netted her second goal in as many games in the first minute of action when she had a one-on-one opportunity at the top of the box, but Mahoney charged up from the goal line and stuffed DeVerna's attempt. Mahoney came up big again for the Gaels when a shot taken by Chrissy Klepper was almost directed into the goal by a defender. The sophomore punched the ball over the net just in time to force one of the Great Danes' four corner kick attempts.
Iona (1-3), which earned its lone victory on the road at Stony Brook, had two big chances to net the equalizer within a five-minute span midway through the stanza. Abby Dixon, who was awarded a direct kick after a teammate was tripped up just outside of the box, was able to get her shot past a wall of Great Dane defenders. However, Crenson reached up to make the save before the ball could make its way to the top center of the net. The Gaels had another golden opportunity to get on the scoreboard when Lauren Matchel unloaded a laser headed towards the right corner of the net. However, Crenson was there once again to make the stop, and freshman defender Casey Marks, who was named the team's player of the game, cleared the ball away from inside the six-yard line before a Gael could capitalize on the rebound.
UAlbany added an insurance goal in the 83rd minute after a forward was taken down just outside the left corner of the box. Nicole Berard centered the indirect kick towards a scrum of players from both teams, and Tirabassi headed the ball in to double the Great Dane lead. Berard was credited with her first career assist and point on the play, while Tirabassi inched closer to each of the program's all-time scoring records. The senior captain now needs just three goals, three assists and three points to break the school standard in each category. The Gaels' last shot attempt by Stephanie Sommers went wide, and the Great Danes held on to win their home opener for the second consecutive season.
UAlbany's Crenson, who was the winning goalkeeper in last season's home-opening win, made eight saves on 15 chances to earn her first victory of the season. She has held opponents scoreless in four of the five halves she has played in this fall. Iona's Mahoney turned away 13 of the 30 shots she faced in the losing effort.
The Great Danes return to action on Sunday, Sept. 6 when they host Lehigh at 2 p.m.
Iona (1-3) 0 0 - 0
UAlbany (1-2) 1 1 - 2
Iona: Scoring - None. Goalkeeping - Kelly Mahoney (90:00, 2 GA, 13 saves).
UAlbany: Scoring - Makenzie Baratta (1-0), Ashley Tirabassi (1-0), Despina Psomopoulos (0-1), Nicole Berard (0-1). Goalkeeping - Cate Crenson (90:00, 0 GA, 8 saves).
Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information