Coming off a bye and hosting the Capital Athletic Conference semifinal game there may have been a little rust for the Christopher Newport University women’s soccer team. 12 minutes into the game, CNU found themselves trailing Salisbury 1-0, but would quickly recover and win 3-1 in convincing fashion to advance to the CAC final on Saturday against York College.
The spark the Captains needed to get their offense going would come from junior midfielder Joy Piirto just five minutes after falling behind 1-0.
“We tried to get me in the attacking positions where I am running at the defense, and I was trying to draw a defender in, but Emma [O’Reilly] was running to the left. All the defenders went with her, they parted for me and I ran up and took the shot and it went in for me,” said Piirto. After tying the game 1-1, the Captains seemed to shake off the rust.
“It was a big game so we may have come out a little bit flustered, anxious, but I think once we got the first goal we were able to settle down and play our game,” said Piirto.
Just 11 minutes after Piirto’s goal, the Captains would take the lead with a goal from freshman defender Sam Rabinek. CNU would go into halftime with a 2-1 lead. As the second half started, it was clear why the Captains were the number one seed in the CAC, dominating possession of the ball for most of the game.
The goal that would put the exclamation point on a Captains’ victory came off the foot of senior forward Bupe Okeowo.
“I saw Joy [Piirto] coming forward, and I thought she was going to take it herself, but I realized I had open space, so I called for it and when I looked up I saw room,” said Okeowo. The team leader in goals, who came in with 12 , would get her 13th on the season by picking up the rebound from her first shot.
“I shot it and the keeper caught it, and she tapped it right back to me. I knew I had to keep my composure and put it in the net,” said Okeowo. After scoring the third goal of the game, it was clear to Okeowo that CNU was on their way to the finals, “I felt like with a two goal lead at that point we had won the game.”
The Captains knew going into the game that Salisbury was going to be a physical battle. “The stakes are high, its win or go home, no one wants to go home and not play anymore, so everyone was definitely out for blood,” said Piirto.
CNU will have a similar test in the final on Saturday versus York. “York is very athletic and aggressive just like Salisbury, so we have to come out strong, relaxed and play our game,” said Okeowo. Piirto knows they will have the advantage playing at home, “We beat them before 1-0 on Senior Day, and I think we just have to play our game on our ground and play to our strengths and we will win.”