By JAKE GROGAN
Fordham opened up conference play this past Sunday at Rose Hill against Rhode Island, then 5-5, and handed URI its first conference loss of the season. The 3-1 victory came thanks to upperclass presence on offense, as junior Maria Lorena Canicatti scored twice while senior Kelsey Dougherty Howard netted her fourth of the season.
Canicatti broke the 0-0 tie in the 21st minute after taking a shot from 10 yards out that found its way in to the left side of the goal. Rhode Island would tie the game four minutes later thanks to a rare mishandled ball by junior goalkeeper Ally White.
The Rams went up 2-1 in the 53rd minute, after Dougherty Howard scored off of a skillful pass from junior Jessica Widmann. The scoring would continue just 22 seconds later. Widmann tied up a Rhode Island defender in a fight for the ball, allowing Canicatti to steal the ball from the distracted defender and tally her second goal of the game and of the season. Fordham would hold on to win 3-1.
Dougherty Howard is clearly establishing herself as one of, if not the best, offensive weapons on this Rams team. Canicatti and freshman Nicol Natale have also established themselves as capable scorers, while Widmann seems to be involved in most plays that produce offensive success.
Such production will be welcomed when the Rams travel to La Salle to take on the 8-2 Explorers, who have only allowed 10 goals all season.
“La Salle has always been a very strong team, but all we need to do defensively is exactly what we have been doing lately,” said White, when asked about the team’s defensive preparation for the Explorers. “If we stay strong against the ball and keep them away from our net, we will be successful this weekend.”
White, who improved to 3-3-2 on Sunday, played well behind a defense that gave up just three shots on goal throughout the contest. Like the offense, the defense will have to be near flawless come Oct. 4 when going against a team that has scored 19 goals on the season. La Salle looks to be Fordham’s toughest opponent during the regular season, making a win that much more appealing to a team looking to set itself apart in conference play.
Momentum certainly helps. White said as much when asked about the team’s win on Sunday, saying: “This Sunday’s win was a great way to bounce back and start a new season off right. We are into the crucial part of the season and beating Rhode Island 3-1 is a great confidence booster.”
Confidence will certainly be key this Friday. Embracing the role of the underdog is no easy task, as it requires a level of play that is dependent on tenacity and a will to win greater than that of the opponent’s. Beating La Salle will take great offensive and defensive execution as well as the ability to cash in on game changing opportunities, whether they be presented or created.
While difficult to achieve, a 2-0 conference record is certainly a possibility for a Rams team that looks ready to succeed in big ways.