SWANNANOA, NC - Two top ten Eastern Metro Athletic Conference teams faced off Saturday in a critical mid-season tilt on a blustery, fall afternoon in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The game proved to be equal to its billing, as 6th ranked Johnson & Wales slipped past #5 Warren Wilson 2-1.
The two teams spent the first fifteen minutes of the match feeling each other out. The teams combined for five shots during this stretch, but none seriously threatened the opposing goal. The Wildcats (4-5-1) would scratch first at the 17:06 mark. JWU earned a corner kick that was pinballed back and forth in the six yard box before finally settling at the feet of Brooklyn Cathey. She directed it towards goal where Lana Truese was able to tap it just over the line and past a diving Susie Lusardi.
It didn't take long for the Owls (5-4-1) to answer. A mere four minutes later, a Johnson & Wales foul in the middle of the field 35 yards from their goal set a Warren Wilson free kick. EMAC Women's Soccer Player of the Week Jazmin Featherstone stepped up and blasted a shot past Wildcat goalkeeper Sarah Bartlett and into the top of the goal, drawing the Owls even. Neither team would generate much offensively for the remainder of the first half, and the game remained level as the half time whistle blew.
The start of the second period mirrored the first, as the two teams struggled to do anything in the final third. That changed 14:25 into the second half as a Warren Wilson foul just outside the left corner of the penalty area gave Johnson & Wales a free kick in a dangerous area. Truese served a ball just in front of the Owl net, that Jacqueline Gomez redirected with her head past Lusardi for what would prove to be the game winning goal. Both Warren Wilson and Johnson & Wales had excellent scoring chances in the final quarter hour, but Bartlett and Lusardi were equal to the task in each instance.
Bartlett made 6 saves for JWU in improving to 2-3 on the season Lusardi recorded 8 saves, but fell to 5-3-1. Truese's recorded both her 9th goal and USCAA best 9th assist of the season. Featherstone's goal was her 10th of the year, which ranks 7th nationally.