WALTHAM, Mass. (October 2, 2018) – On a damp, raw day in the Bay State, the No. 9 nationally ranked Franklin Pierce University women's soccer team – freshly into the nation's top 10 – faced its sternest test of the season thus far on Tuesday afternoon. After falling behind early on the road in the Northeast-10 Conference contest at Bentley, the Ravens used a dominant second half to find an equalizer and force overtime. In the end though, a 99th-minute header by Bentley senior forward Alyssa Valente was the difference, as the Falcons dealt Franklin Pierce its first loss of the season, 2-1, in overtime.
With the loss, Franklin Pierce falls to 8-1-0 (7-1-0 NE10), while Bentley improves to 3-3-3 (2-3-2 NE10). The loss snapped Franklin Pierce's season-opening eight-game winning streak.
Bentley had perhaps the best two chances of the extra session, including the game-winner. In the 93rd minute, the Falcons pushed the tempo, which led to Valente taking the ball as she approached the edge of the penalty area on the left side. She uncorked her shot from there, but put it wide of the left post.
Valente would ultimately strike paydirt for the game-winner in the 99th minute. The play developed quickly in the final third, and the ball wound up at the feet of sophomore forward Emma Guccione, pushing deep into the right-wing corner. Guccione crossed from there, and her service found the head of Valente, who was in front of the left post, outside the top of the six-yard box. Valente put her header back against the grain and tucked her shot inside the right post for her third goal of the season, to send the Falcons spilling off the bench in celebration.
It was the second assist of the day for Guccione, who also sent a cross from the right wing to help Bentley open the scoring, just 3:41 into the afternoon's proceedings. This time, junior forward Stephanie Helin was on the other end of the cross and volleyed it home to notch her fifth goal of the campaign.
After each team attempted six shots in the first half, Franklin Pierce turned up the heat in the second half. A 10-5 advantage in shot attempts in the half, including 5-0 in shots on goal, led to a bevy of chances for the Ravens. In the 53rd minute, senior midfielder Nathalia Maria da Silva (Sao Paulo, Brazil) put a shot over the net from the top of the box. In the 66th minute, da Silva took a free kick from 19 yards out, directly in front of the goal, and put a low shot just outside the left post. In the 70th minute, a slick give-and-go on the right side of the penalty area gave junior forward Veronica Marques (Sao Paulo, Brazil) a golden scoring opportunity from the middle of the penalty area, but Bentley junior goalkeeper Renee Perkins was able to come up with the save.
The persistence finally paid off in the 73rd minute, when the Ravens cashed in a second-chance opportunity. After putting a stop to the initial push towards goal, Bentley was unable to effectively clear the ball, which came back to junior midfielder Gabi Pereira (Belo Horizonte, Brazil), just outside the top of the box. She quickly stepped into a shot from there and slotted it low and inside the left post for her third goal of the season, to level the score at 1-1.
Bentley nearly reclaimed the lead just minutes later, in the 75th, when the Falcons were awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal on the left side. The service found the head of junior midfielder Kelly Donlon in front of the right post, but the attempt went wide of the target. The remainder of regulation went without further scoring, which set the table for Valente's overtime heroics.
Freshman goalkeeper Casey Kane (Millis, Mass.) finished with three saves against five shots on goal and suffered the loss (5-1-0) in front of the Franklin Pierce net. Perkins (1-3-1) countered with six saves against seven shots on goal to pick up the win at the other end of the field for Bentley.
The Ravens return to the field on Saturday, Oct. 6, when they travel to Merrimack for an NE10 contest. Game time is set for 4 p.m. at Martone-Mejail Field in North Andover, Mass.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (https://www.fpuravens.com). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce soccer apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (https://www.fpuravens.com/store).