Senior Danielle Pearse scored a pair of second half goals to lead the Central Connecticut women's soccer team past Fairleigh Dickinson, 2-1, on Friday at CCSU Soccer Field in the semifinals of the Northeast Conference championship. The Blue Devils advanced to the title game for the second time in three seasons in front of a boisterous crowd of 998. The win improved Central to 15-1-2 on the year with their ninth straight win.
Central will play Saint Francis U. in the Northeast Conference Championship game on Sunday, Nov. 4, at CCSU Soccer Field at 1:00 p.m.
Head coach Mick D'Arcy will be looking to lead the Blue Devils to a league title for the seventh time in his career, and the ninth title in program history. Central advanced to the NEC title game for the 11th time overall with Friday's win.
Sophomore Jenna Rae Covello was dangerous from the right side in the first period, helping set up chances that gave Central a 6-0 edge in shots in the opening half, but the game was tied 0-0. The Blue Devils had a pair of close-range shots that could have led to goals, but the attempts were stopped by the Knights' Amanda Fitzgerald.
Fairleigh Dickinson had their first scoring chance of the day, early in the second half when Lea Egner got a ball in front of the CCSU net, but her shot was smothered by senior Ashley Cavanaugh to keep it 0-0.
Minutes later the Blue Devils would break the tie. In the 55th minute, senior Charlotte Maurer won a ball in the midfield and sent it down the right side to Covello who sent a low cross to the front of the net. Pearse outraced the FDU defense to the ball and flicked it past Fitzgerald to make it 1-0 at the 54:46 mark.
The Knights would press for the tying goal, earning nearly back-to-back corner kicks with 25 minutes to play. Viktoija Miseljic would get a shot off in front of the net in a scramble for the ball, but Cavanaugh was able to get down and make the save to protect the Central lead.
FDU managed to find the equalizer with continued pressure when Madelyn Robbins took the ball into the center of the field and slipped a pass into the box. Jackson Bennett picked the ball up and chipped a low shot past Cavanaugh from the left side to tie the game 1-1 at the 68:57 mark.
The Blue Devils would get the game-winning goal with just under 10 minutes to play when Maurer took the ball through the middle and found Covello down the right side. Covello would dribble to the endline and send a cross into the front of the net that found Pearse for her second goal of the day with 9:14 to play.
Central finished the game with a 13-6 edge in shots, while each team had three corner kicks. Cavanaugh finished with four saves for the Blue Devils, while Fitzgerald made five stops for FDU.
The Blue Devils will host the championship game on Sunday against Saint Francis U. at 1:00 p.m. at CCSU Soccer Field.