The Eastern Michigan University women’s soccer team won its second consecutive match, beating the Indiana State University Sycamores 4-0 at Scicluna Field on Sunday. The match was dedicated to Ovarian Cancer Awareness, as the team wore armbands, headbands and special white jerseys with teal numbering to commemorate.
Junior forward Angela Vultaggio led the way for the Eagles, scoring two second half goals, while fellow junior forward Bianca Rossi recorded a goal and two assists. Senior captain Cara Cutaia pitched in with a goal and an assist of her own.
“We did a good job of making them chase and, at the end, I think we just wore (Indiana State) down throughout the game,” EMU head coach Scott Hall said of his team’s performance. “A lot of people questioned whether we could handle those big games early, but I think it prepares you for games like these.”
In net, sophomore Megan McCabe and redshirt junior Anna Vess combined time to give Eastern its first shutout of the season. McCabe stopped five shots in 84 minutes of play, while Vess stopped one shot in six minutes of play. For Indiana State, freshman goalkeeper Abby Keller stopped six of the ten shots she faced.
The Eagles offense started hot for the second straight game, pressuring the Sycamores defense early and earning the game’s first corner in the third minute. EMU’s pressure finally cracked the ISU defense in the seventh minute, when senior midfielder Allison Kaim, making her first start of the season, carried the possession into the 18-yard box and found Rossi, who tucked away her third goal of the season to give Eastern the early 1-0 lead.
Despite the Eagles dominating the possession early on, the Sycamores would not go quietly, attacking when it could and got a dangerous chance in the 15th minute, when senior midfielder Taylor Reed received a looping cross in front of the Eagles goal. But McCabe was spot on with the save and kept the 1-0 lead.
In the 17th minute, sophomore defenseman Jennifer Bentley sent a ball into the box that Cutaia found and her shot hit the back of the net to double the EMU lead at 2-0.
Play settled in following the Cutaia goal, as both teams traded shots and possession without either providing any real threat on goal. The final opportunity went to the Eagles, when Cutaia broke free down the right flank, as the clock ticked down. She sent a cross into Rossi with five seconds remaining, but her shot was blocked by the Sycamores defense and the first half ended with a 2-0 Eastern advantage.
At halftime, the entire EMU team presented the Kaim family with a plaque, commemorating the life of Cheryl Kaim, mother of Allison and former Eastern player Julie Kaim, who passed away in 2011 from ovarian cancer. Also, the team announced that it raised $5,000 for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition in Cheryl’s name.
“The past two years, we have done a lot for my family, but today it was just great to get the result for my mom.” Allison Kaim said about the team’s victory on the day dedicated to her mother.
“It means giving back to something that is bigger than the team,” Hall added about the donations made by the team.
The second half began the same way the first half did, with EMU applying pressure and attacking the ISU backline. Just three minutes into the second half, Vultaggio found a gap in the defense and got the better of the ISU goalkeeper, tucking away her third goal of the season and putting the Eagles up 3-0.
Eastern struck again in the 74th minute, when junior midfielder Martha Stevens hit sophomore forward Megan Trapp with a pass on the right side. Her ensuing cross found Vultaggio inside the Sycamores box and the shot trickled inside the left post to put the Eagles up 4-0.
“By putting our shots away, I think this really makes us confident going into the MAC (part of the schedule),” Vultaggio said about the offense’s momentum. “I think this (today’s result) is really going to benefit us (in the future).”
The lead allowed coach Hall to insert some of the younger players into the fray, as 11 different players made substitutions into the game, including backup goalkeeper Anna Vess. The redshirt sophomore came on in the 84th minute and stopped a late, long distance try by the Sycamores to preserve the shutout and the 4-0 victory.
“Having had some of the tough games we’ve had this year has helped build our confidence and composure up,” junior defender Emily Dzik said about the defense’s mindset. “I think this really puts us in a positive note heading into the conference play.”
Mid-American Conference play begins for the Eagles, as they play host to Northern Illinois on Friday, Sept. 27. Kickoff is at 5 p.m.
Follow Josh Dye on Twitter @JdyeEMUEcho