As if the 85-degree Sunday was not enough to make fans sweat, the Castleton women’s soccer team played a nail-biting game against the Kean University Cougars that made it worse and came up short 4-3.
Head coach of the Spartans, Chris Chapdelaine, said the heat was not a negative factor in the game for his club because “we’re fit, the heat is just one of those things that you either succumb too, or you overcome.”
But the temperatures were so dangerous for players that referees took one official timeout in the first half and another in the second to giver players a break.
But Chapdelaine said after the game that mistakes and not the heat was the cause of the loss.
“With the schedule we play, we play good opponents, good opponents make you pay for your mistakes,” he said. Castleton’s defense struggled to keep the Kean players in front of them for most of the game. More mistakes came for Castleton as the Cougars scored the game winner in the 86th minute of play on a defensive turnover deep in Spartan territory.
Kean, on the other hand, played solid defense all day and kept the ball away from All-Tournament First Team forward Mallory Costello for most of the game. Costello came into the game scoring four goals in the previous two games.
“Everyone is aware of her and she has created quite the résumé for herself,” said Chapdelaine about his star player.
Costello left Sunday's match without a goal, but Castleton had some young players like sophomore Kiley Baran and freshman Bronwen Hopwood step up into big roles, in an even bigger moment.
Hopwood set up the game-tying goal in the second half for the Spartans as she weaved her way single handedly into Kean territory. Just before she was about to score, Hopwood was tripped up by the Cougar defense and was awarded a penalty kick. Baran was selected for the free kick and tied the game as the ball entered the bottom right corner of the net. Baran’s kick had enough velocity to speed past the goalkeeper while also having the pinpoint accuracy to stay just out of reach.
Castleton players know they have the offensive firepower to win another conference title and was ranked number one in a pre-season poll ranking. With underclassmen getting settled into their rolls, look for Castleton to be an offensive force in conference play. If Castleton can learn from their defensive mistakes, the Spartans chances at another NAC Championship will be very realistic.
The Spartans are now 1-2 this season and are looking to get back on track as they play Lyndon State later today.