The 2017 Northeast Conference Tournament third-seeded Central Connecticut women's soccer fell to the second-seeded Saint Francis Red Flash 2-1 in the second Northeast Conference semifinal on Friday afternoon at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ. SFU managed two goals in the second half in a well-fought match for both teams. Down two goals to none late in the second half, the Blue Devils found the back of the net in the 84th minute of play, but the CCSU comeback was shorted as time expired.
CCSU concludes its 2017 season with a record of 10-8 and 6-2 against league opponents. The Red Flash advance to the 2017 Northeast Conference Championship match on Sunday, Nov. 5 against first-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson at noon.
The Blue Devils carried much of the momentum in the first half of Friday's second semifinal, out-shooting SFU 8-5 at the break. Senior Kelly Halligan and junior Danielle Pearse led the charge out front in the first 20 minutes of action with five shots combined between the two.
In the 56th minute of play, the Red Flash's Mariana Jaleca found her first goal of the season on a curving strike into the left corner post to give SFU the 1-0 lead. Alyssa McGhee was credited for the assist on the score. Just 10 minutes later in the 66th minute, Red Flash senior Gabi Morales put SFU up 2-0 single-handedly. Morales lifted a left side corner high over the head of junior goalkeeper Ashley Cavanaugh.
In dire need of goal, senior Laura Casanovas Diaz streaked up the heart of the Red Flash defense and placed a perfect through ball ahead to freshman Jenna Rae Covello in stride, who struck her team-leading fifth goal of the season with 6:25 to go in regulation. The Blue Devils earned two corner kicks and fired off a header in the closing minutes, but was unable to find the equalizer as the clock ran out.
Cavanaugh totaled five saves in the match and finishes her junior year with a record of 10-8 on the season. CCSU held a 20-14 advantage on shots led by Halligan with four strikes. Senior Jennifer Cafferky, four-time NEC Defensive Player of the Year played her 66th and final game as a Blue Devil to finish one of the most commemorable women's soccer careers in history.