BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Moravian College women's soccer team boasted three different goal scorers and a combined shutout from goalkeepers Genevieve Chaleff and Jacqueline Zalis to defeat Juniata College 3-0 on Saturday afternoon on the HUB Quad in a crucial Landmark Conference contest.
Sophomore forward Micaela Kwochka continued her hot streak, scoring the eventual game-winner in the 27th minute on a breakaway. It was her fifth goal of the season, and it gave Chaleff her fifth win of 2013 after playing the first half.
The Greyhounds (6-8-1, 2-2 Landmark) received some insurance in the second half when senior forward Caroline Clark received a pass from freshman Valentina Margiottiello and buried it for the 2-0 lead in the 83rd minute. Margiottiello then stretched the lead to 3-0 in the 85th when junior Meaghan Mann put the ball on her feet. The freshman striker made a cut into space and fired a dipping shot over the Juniata goalkeeper.
"To respond with two goals after coming out in the second half flat really showed what kind of team we are," said head coach Brienne Smith. "Meaghan Mann was in the game for a couple minutes and played a perfect pass to Val. It was a heads-up ball. Our bench is really pulling us through this year. We're asking kids to step up, and they just continue to do that. It's nice to know that this program finally has some depth."
One of those players off the bench was Zalis, a sophomore goalkeeper who has owned the second half in the Greyhounds' matches for the majority of 2013. Zalis didn't have much time to warm up as Juniata's Paula Pryor – the Landmark Conference's leading scorer – ripped a shot headed for the upper 90's two minutes into the half.
Zalis leaped and tipped the shot over the bar to preserve a 1-0 lead.
"As soon as I saw her shoot it, I saw it coming toward the goal," Zalis said. "I was able to leap and tip it over, and we've been practicing that shot in training. I knew how to stop it."
Zalis made six saves to help her and Chaleff combine on their sixth shutout of the season.
"We finally stepped up and everyone filled in their spots so well," Zalis said. "Everyone wanted to win so badly today, and this win should help push us forward. There's a lot of confidence right now. It has to come from all over the field, from the bench to the goalies and up to the forwards. If we don't get it from everyone, it's not going to work out. "
It began to work out for the Greyhounds at the perfect time. Moravian leapfrogged the Eagles in the conference standings for the fourth and final playoff spot with two Landmark matches remaining this season.
One aspect that will help the Greyhounds maintain their standing is team-wide depth, which again showed itself on Saturday. Zalis is part of that depth, according to Smith.
"Jackie was simply awesome," the fourth-year head coach said. "She really wants that starting job. She's splitting time now, and for her to come off the bench and make that save is amazing. It says a lot about how much she's grown over the last year and a half. The confidence she has in herself and the confidence her teammates have in her is a huge boost for this team. "
The battle for the starting job as been a season-long one, but the two keepers push each other for the benefit of the team, rather than compete with each other.
"We live together and we're really good friends," Zalis said of her goalmate Chaleff. "There's never a problem between us two."
Margiottiello also came off the bench on Saturday to score her second goal of the season. She was finally rewarded after banging shots off the crossbar in two of the last three matches.
Moravian continues Landmark Conference play on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at The University of Scranton at 7 p.m.