COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College women's soccer team got the better of a game of inches on Wednesday night, using a late goal and a narrow escape to eke out a 1-0 Centennial Conference shutout of visiting Washington College.
Freshman Kelly Gardus provided the knockout blow as the Bears defeated the Shorewomen (7-6-1, 3-6) for the sixth consecutive season. The rookie retrieved a pass from senior Mackenzie Groff just outside the box, took a few gathering touches, and rifled a shot that went off the fingertips of Washington College goalie Annalie Buscarino before bouncing off the underside of the crossbar and over the goal line for the lone score of the night.
The 77th-minute strike was the third goal of the year for Gardus, and her first career game-winner. She has scored on all but one of her four shots this season. Groff notched her first assist of the season, giving her seven for her career.
The Bears (7-7-2, 3-6) had to survive a close call in the final minutes. Olivia Sabatino's shot off a corner kick took a hard deflection and bounded toward the left post, but Ursinus sophomore goalie Sabrina Doherty alertly dove to her right to smother the ball before it could trickle over the line.
There were precious few scoring chances in a scoreless first half, but the pace picked up in the second stanza. Senior Kasey Sheahan had a goal disallowed for offside in the 54th minute, and Arianna Sabatino dragged a shot inches wide of the right post in the 67th.
The breakthrough finally came with 13:26 showing on the clock as Gardus' perfectly placed effort snuck in under the bar.
After their close shave, the Bears nearly tacked on an insurance tally with two minutes to play. Sheahan's long-range effort stung the palms of Buscarino, who was able to lift it over the bar and out for a corner.
Doherty finished with five saves for her sixth shutout of the season and the eighth of her career. She was aided by a back line that included junior Cailey Sanchez, senior Kailey Ryan, and freshman Kayla O'Malley and helped keep the Shorewomen off the scoreboard despite a 15-6 discrepancy in shots.
The Bears look to finish on a high note when they welcome Bryn Mawr to Patterson Field on Saturday for a Senior Day finale.