BROOKLINE — Over the course of the long, arduous CAA season, Northeastern has gone through several ups and downs. One of the downs came just last weekend, when they dropped a game to the Hofstra Pride by a narrow 1-0 margin. Occasionally, all a team needs to stop a skid is a bit of home cooking.
After thoroughly defeating Hampton on home turf 10-0, it was clear that Northeastern preferred playing at Parson’s Field, coming into this match with a 3-1-2 home record. They returned to Brookline on Thursday for a matchup against the College of Charleston.
The Cougars entered the match with a meager 2-7-3 record overall, compared with the Huskies’ 5-3-4. The burden of proving that they were the favorites fell upon Northeastern, but they were more than up for the task, despite a few notable absences from the forward group. Sophomore Vivian Aykirem and senior Rose Kaefer were both missing from the lineup due to minor injuries, a huge blow to the Northeastern offense.
Stepping into those big shoes to fill was freshman Maggie Cochran. Fifth-year Alexis Legowski slid up from her normal defensive midfield position to forward as well. The two of them did an excellent job of replicating the threat that Aykirem and Kaefer normally represent — a mixture of on-the-ball skills and blistering pace.
The Huskies dominated from the starting whistle, pinning the Cougars in their own end of the pitch. The Cougars lacked aggression in their offense, which allowed the Northeastern midfield – anchored by freshman Maddie Aughe – to reset their own attack in the midfield, as opposed to their own end.
Through the opening frame of play, Northeastern was controlling possession, but couldn’t beat the final line of the Cougars’ defense. Legowski was dynamic from her forward position, using her size and speed to win aerial battles in the attacking third. She was unable to score, but still produced the best scoring chance of the first half.
A beautiful cross was worked in by junior Megan Putvinski. Legowski climbed up the metaphorical ladder to rise above the Charleston defense, and got her head to the ball. Unfortunately, Legowski’s aerial ability proved too great, as she got on top of the ball and shot it straight into the ground, taking much of the pace out of it.
Neither side would score through the first 45 minutes, but it was clear that the momentum rested with the Huskies. The second half opened much the same as the first, but with Northeastern engaging with a new level of energy. A full-field press caused the Cougars to go into a more extreme mode of self-preservation. They were more than happy with ceding corners and set pieces in dangerous areas, just to slow the speed of the Huskies attack. The Huskies would end the match with an impressive nine corner kicks.
Eight minutes into the second half, Northeastern finally linked together to score. It was once again Legowski driving the attack downfield. The ball was glued to her foot as she weaved through a pair of Cougar defenders. With her head up, she played a perfect pass into the middle of the penalty area, which was received by a wide open senior Jessie Hunt. With one swift motion, Hunt fired the ball through the legs of the goalkeeper Savannah Barron, and into the back of the net for the first score of the match.
Seven minutes later, and the Huskies struck again. This time, it was thanks to the efforts of three particular Huskies. Cochran found herself pinned in the corner, and Hunt swooped in to relieve the effort. Cochran played a soft outlet pass to escape her mark, which Hunt one-timed into the center of the penalty area. Sophomore Lauren Ahles was there on the other end of Hunt’s centering ball, and with one touch she redirected the ball enough to beat Barron and notch Northeastern’s second goal of the game.
The Huskies were clearly not satisfied with a pair of goals, as they immediately sought after a third. Unfortunately, Barron had tightened up her play, making some massive saves down the stretch, finishing with 11 in all. None more impressive than when she denied Cochran of a one-on-one chance on goal. Were it not for Barron, the Huskies could have easily scored two or more goals.
Despite their best efforts, the scoreline would hold, and the Huskies would come away the victors in yet another CAA matchup at home.
The Huskies will be back in action on Sunday Oct. 8 with a road game at Monmouth. Written coverage will be provided on WRBBSports.com.