CASTLETON, Vt. -- A late goal by the Simmons Sharks doomed the Spartans to a 2-1 defeat at Spartan Stadium on Saturday in the first round of the Rutland Herald Invitational.
Sophomore Ali Berkman (Natick, Mass.) flicked a header off a free kick into the side netting in the 89th minute to bury the Spartans. Berkman broke free off a set piece in the middle of the box and was able to redirect the ball from Issy Verrilli (Naugatuck, Conn.) into the corner of the net.
Spartan goalkeeper Jessica Binkowski faced a flurry of shots, especially in the first half. Binkowski made two crucial saves in the early minutes to preserve a 0-0 tie throughout the first half, including a point blank save on a Sharks breakaway. The freshman finished with five saves on the day.
Castleton struck first with a goal from Mallory Costello in the 65th minute. The forward sliced through the Sharks' defenders gave the Spartans the lead with a laser into the lower left corner. The Spartans' lead didn't last long however, as Greer Gilbert (Falmouth, Mass.) converted on a cross from Alexis Eusebio (Dartmouth, Mass.) to provide equalizer for Simmons just three minutes later.
With the score tied at 1-1, both teams traded opportunities going back and forth for the final 25 minutes until Berkman's head struck the deciding blow. Simmons goalkeeper Briana Hayes (Manorville, N.Y.) finished the game with 8 saves, earning her first win of the season.
The Spartans outshot the Sharks 20-11 but failed to convert on their chances. The Sharks' defense and physical play kept the home team off balance and unsettled.
Castleton falls to 2-1 on the season and will play in the consolation game of the Rutland Herald Invitational Sunday, Sept. 8 at 12pm. Simmons moves to 1-1 and will play at 2:30pm in the championship game.