The Eastern Michigan University women’s soccer team snapped its five game losing streak in convincing fashion, beating the Stetson University Hatters 5-1 on a soggy Scicluna Field on Friday evening.
Five different players scored for EMU (2-4-1), while six players were attributed with assists.
Juniors Angela Vultaggio and Martha Stevens and sophomore Megan Trapp each recorded a goal and an assist, while senior Cara Cutaia and freshman Stefanie Barcelos each scored goals in the victory.
Senior Stephanie Clarke and freshman Madison Hirsch each tallied assists for the Eagles. Sophomore goalkeeper Megan McCabe stopped six shots and assisted on Vultaggio’s goal.
“It’s hard when you’re not getting results when you’re in the games, so I was confident that we could do something like this,” EMU head coach Scott Hall said. “Overall, everything that we’ve been building is starting to come together.”
For the Hatters (2-4-1), senior goalkeeper Victoria Troccoli stopped three of the eight shots she faced, while senior forward Alyssa Welsh scored the lone goal.
The rain began to pour down on the field at kick off, but that didn’t prevent the Eagles from striking early. In the fifth minute, Vultaggio broke free past the Stetson defense and was challenged by Troccoli. The Troy, Mich. native came up with the save, but Stevens was there to clean it up, scoring her second goal of the season and giving the Eagles the early 1-0 lead.
“It was really great. It did great things for our confidence,” Stevens said about scoring in the first five minutes of the match. “We really wanted it today. Things were working well for us, and we just kept putting balls in the back of the net.”
Things became very muddled following the Stevens goal as the rain came down harder and the teams’ plays became sloppier as a result. But EMU dominated the possession throughout the first half, and it paid off again in the 35th minute.
Clarke went through Stetson pressure, found an open Stevens, who laid the ball off to a streaking Cutaia. Troccoli attempted the save, but Cutaia slipped the ball into the empty left corner of the goal and put the Eagles up 2-0, extending the team’s lead in goals to four.
Eastern rolled with its momentum, despite the continuing rain, and scored late in the first half. Trapp corralled a McCabe punt and dropped it overtop of the Hatters’ defense. Vultaggio got underneath it and turned on the burners to escape the defense with nothing but the goalkeeper to beat. She netted her second goal of the year and gave EMU a commanding 3-0 lead at the end of the first half.
The rain subsided as the second half got underway, but the Eastern offense continued to fire on all cylinders. Just five minutes into the second half, Barcelos scored her first collegiate goal in impressive fashion – a shot 30 yards away from the goal. The ball floated perfectly over the outstretched hands of Troccoli and extended the EMU lead to 4-0.
While the offense was rolling, McCabe and the Eagle defense remained rock solid, keeping the Stetson offense in check and diffusing any chances the Hatters could muster.
“I really hope this is a momentum-starter for us,” McCabe said about the performance of the defensive unit. “I think this will get our morale up and (allow us) to play at the level that we want to play at.”
The dominating play allowed coach Hall to give some of the younger players game time as nine substitutes made appearances for Eastern, including five freshmen.
“We’ve got a lot of younger players that have done a great job in training. It just hasn’t been their time,” Hall said. “We’ve got some talented players (that know) you have to beat people out to get on the field, so training sessions are always tough.”
In the 74th minute, Hirsch made the most of her time on the pitch, drawing a foul and stepping up to take the free kick. Her looping ball found Trapp’s head right in front of the SU goal and the Plymouth, Mich. native directed the ball into the net for her first goal of the year, putting the Eagles up 5-0.
Just when the Eagles thought it had the shutout, Stetson upped the attack and, in the 87th minute, Welch ripped a shot in EMU box and beat a diving McCabe, making the score 5-1, which would be the final score.
The Eagles defeated the Indiana State Sycamores on Sunday, for a recap of the game, head over to easternecho.com a little later.
Follow Josh Dye on Twitter: @JdyeEMUEcho