Heading into the bout on Saturday, Oct. 25 against Capital University, the Blue Streaks and the Crusaders were in the midst of a heated battle for fourth place in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
The two teams proved to be evenly matched, as they played 109 minutes of back and forth soccer. Then, with just 41 seconds left to play, senior forward Kay Akerly slotted a shot past Capital keeper Kim Letich to give JCU the 2-1 victory. The win gave JCU crucial leverage as the end of conference play is fast approaching.
On senior night, emotions were high, but the Crusaders made their presence known early, as Capital’s Maura Fortino headed in a cross in just the third minute of play.
The goal took the air out of the JCU faithful, but the Blue Streaks continued to push forward, knowing how much this game meant to their potential postseason push.
Despite JCU’s seven first half shots, nothing found the back of the net, and the hosts headed into halftime with a narrow 1-0 deficit.
Continuing their push for an equalizer, the Blue Streaks came out firing in the second half. Finally, in the 60th minute, junior Danielle Sharbaugh finished off a pass from freshman Justina Fortson and knotted up the game at one.
Both teams put a flurry of shots on net to end regulation, but both Letich and JCU senior keeper Haley McDonald turned away everything that came their way as the teams headed to overtime.
In the first overtime, the Blue Streaks were halted whenever they tried to muster an offensive chance, as the Capital defense was as stingy and stout as it had been all game.
Luckily for JCU, McDonald turned away both shots she faced and the game headed to a second overtime, still tied at one.
The second overtime was a different story for the Blue Streaks, as they mustered three shots to Capital’s one. The third was the most important, as that was the shot Akerly finished off, giving JCU the crucial 2-1 conference victory.
Akerly reflected on the emotion of scoring the game-winning goal on senior night.
“Scoring the winning on goal on senior night was a great feeling,” said Akerly. “However, it was an even better feeling beating the team that had ended our season last year. I knew there was only a minute left in the second overtime and my teammate, Maggie (Reilly), had played the perfect ball for one final attack.
Now sitting at 10-3-3 on the season and 4-1-2 in conference play, the Blue Streaks are in fourth place in the OAC with two games left to play against the University of Mount Union and Muskingum University, two teams sitting right below them in standings.
While each game is important during the season, these last two will define JCU’s season.
The Blue Streaks will take the field next on Saturday, Nov. 1 as they travel to New Concord, Ohio to take on the Fighting Muskies of Muskingum.
Editors Note: The John Carroll University women’s soccer team returned to action on Wednesday, Oct. 29 as they travel to Alliance, Ohio to take on the University of Mount Union at 7 p.m.