WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Senior midfielder Cíara Forde (Quincy, Mass.) netted her second game-winner of the season with a goal in the seventh minute of overtime to give the Simmons University women's soccer team a 2-1 victory over host University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference match this afternoon at Kingswood Oxford High School in West Hartford, Conn. The Sharks win their third straight contest to improve to 3-3-0 overall and 2-1-0 in league play, while the Blue Jays fall to 2-4-0 and 0-3-0.
Saint Joseph held an 18-15 shot advantage, but Simmons took both shots in the overtime period.
Following a USJ foul just inside midfield, senior back Mallory Cottam (Hope, R.I.) took the free-kick and sent a long ball that found space and bounced just outside the penalty area and over all of the Blue Jays to Forde, who beat the Saint Joseph keeper for the golden goal victory and the seventh game-winner of her career. Cottam's two helpers for the contest matched her career best.
Simmons threatened to score the deciding marker just minutes prior to the golden goal, but junior midfielder Kristen Mihalich's (East Rockaway, N.Y.) shot was denied by the Blue Jays' keeper in the fourth minute of extra time.
Following a scoreless opening half, the Saint Joseph scored early in the second stanza to take a 1-0 lead in the 49th minute of play. Senior Sarah Palko (Southington, Conn.) played a long ball up to graduate senior Jessica Spezzano (Watertown, Conn.) down the left wing. Spezzano gathered and crossed an attempt into the penalty area, but was unable to find anyone crashing toward the net. However, the Sharks clearance landed right at the feet of junior Olivia Norton (Berlin, Conn.) who ripped a shot with her left foot into the bottom right corner of the net to put the Blue Jays up 1-0 in the 49th minute.
Simmons received the equalizer midway through the second half when Cottam drove up the left side of the field and played a long through ball to the far post to junior forward Amber Nobbs (Granville, Mass.). Nobbs' first-touch shot rocketed over the hand of the Saint Joseph keeper and into the top of the net for her first collegiate goal and a 1-1 tie at the 66:52 mark.
The Blue Jays had a pair of chances to potentially win the game in regulation in the 77th and 83rd minutes. First year Ali O'Neill (Litchfield, Conn.) ripped a strike on frame from 30 yards out at the 76:47 mark that drilled the crossbar and found its way directly to classmate Paola Jimenez (East Hartford, Conn.) who had a pair of cracks on goal, but Sharks senior netminder Lauren Williams (Bowdoinham, Maine) made two stops in an 18-second span to keep the game deadlocked. Then, in the 83rd minute, a ball was crossed in from the right corner and found a wide-open Palko for Saint Joseph at the near post, but her header attempt caromed off the side post to force overtime.
Williams kept Simmons in the game by nearly matching her career-high with nine saves to earn the victory, while junior goalie Megan Ricci (Center Moriches, N.Y.) stopped eight shots for the Blue Jays.
The Sharks return to action on Saturday, September 22 when they travel to Standish, Maine to take on GNAC rival Saint Joseph's College at 2:00 p.m., while Saint Joseph heads to Boston on the same day to play league foe Suffolk University at 3:00 p.m.