One Step Away! Spital scores twice to lead women past Cortland State

Dara Spital '15 heads home the game-winning goal (Photo by Dave Burbank)
ITHACA, N.Y. – Brandeis University women's soccer sophomore forward Dara Spital (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) scored a pair of first-half goals and the Judges withstood a furious rally from SUNY-Cortland to earn a 2-1 victory in the third round of the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer tournament.

With the win, the Judges (16-4-2) advance to tomorrow's sectional final, where they will meet Misericordia University, who advanced on penalty kicks, 5-4, after a scoreless draw with host Ithaca College. SUNY-Cortland ends their campaign at 12-5-6. The winner of tomorrow's 1:00 match between the Judges and Cougars will advance to their first-ever Final Four in two weeks in San Antonio, Texas.

      Spital scored her two goals less than 12 minutes apart early in the first half. At the 12:46 mark, she opened the scoring with an unassisted goal. After an initial Brandeis attempt was blocked, she collected the rebound and placed it in the bottom right corner of the net behind Cortland State netminder Taylor Hudson. It was Spital's 13th goal of the season and snapped a two-match scoreless streak.

      At 24:02, junior midfielder Mary Shimko (Bay Village, Ohio/Lake Ridge Acad.) crossed a ball that Spital was able to head over the leaping Hudson. It was Spital's 14th of the season and would prove to be her eighth game-winner, tying a Brandeis single-season record. The assist was Shimko's third of the campaign.

      Brandeis would go on to outshoot Cortland State, 6-4, the rest of the way in the first half, though Brandeis senior Francine Kofinas (Dix Hills, N.Y./Half Hollow Hills West) was not forced to make any saves. The Red Dragons would change their luck in getting shots on net early in the second half against Brandeis sophomore Michelle Savuto (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood), who made saves in the 53rd and 56th minute against Abby Williams. Savuto came off her line to deny the first attempt, while the second was a hard shot, but right at the Judges' netminder.

      Spital nearly added a third goal in the 61st minute, when she went just over the crossbar, while Hudson denied Shimko's free kick in the 70th minute.

      Cortland State increased their pressure in the final 20 minutes, registering four of the final five shots of the contest. The Red Dragons finally broke through with less than two minutes left in regulation, when Kelley Knight took a feed from Matison Williams and knocked off the underside of the crossbar and in. Cortland State also got one final attempt with four seconds left, but Savuto made the save, her fourth of the game, to send the Judges to victory.   

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