A very tough and physical matchup for the Zips ended well after Karina Atkinson scored a stunner in the 99th minute. The Zips continued their success to reach four straight games without a loss.
Under the lights for their last non-conference match of the season, the Lady Zips fought hard for 99 minutes to pull out a satisfactory victory. For the Zips, the match got underway fast with their first shot on goal in the 3rd minute off a corner kick. Madison Kaser was able to get her head on the ball as it swung into the box, seeing her shot hit off the top of the cross bar. The home crowd was not even settled in their seats before they jumped back up.
Success continued as the Zips forced another corner just one minute later, followed by some impressive passing by the Zips. On the left side of the pitch forward Sydney Blomquist connected twice with Sarah Sivic but to no avail. On both opportunities Blomquist was able to pull the defender off of Sivic while running close to the touchline. Once the defender was pulled off Sivic, Blomquist put the ball just slightly too far in front of Sivic. The early success of the Zips attack forced the Penguins to adjust quickly and it caught the Zips off guard.
While the Zips dominated the opening 15 minutes of the match, the Penguins switched tactics to a much more physical game. Immediately the Penguins were able to force themselves into the box. In the 18th and 20th minutes of play the Zips were on their heels as YSU applied a ton of pressure. It took multiple clearence attempts by the Zips before they were able to connect and get the ball out of their own box. Youngstown State’s Sydney Riddle and Katie Hohmann were able to get shots on goal, with Karlee Kline, Katie Hackos, and Kearsten Sego getting shots off.
The best scoring chance besides the early header for the Zips as a powerful shot by forward Lani Smith. Smith sprinted from well outside the box to about 25 yards out from goal. With moments to spare before halftime, Smith cut inside leaving the YSU defender behind, then continuing her run to the box, Smith curled a powerful shot left to right, but was well defended by Penguins keeper Jackie Podolsky.
Following the halftime intermission, the second half turned into a physical match that at times got out of hand. Multiple times during the second half both the Zips and Penguins committed some extremely hard fouls. At times the official seemed satisfied with being an onlooker as players were getting tackled to the ground. It eventually resulted in yellow for the Penguins as Tyesha Kizer took out Zips midfielder Madison Kaser.
Kaser who had surgery following high school to repair a torn ACL and sat out last game due to injury, was slow to get off the turf.
Once the horn had gone off to end regulation, the Zips went into overtime with an edge that haden’t been seen since the opening 15 minutes. It didn’t take long before the Zips began to impose themselves. Creating large passing lanes eventually opened up a golden shot for Karina Atkinson to take home. Running down the right side of the pitch, Atkinson had about 20 yards of running room before the nearest defender. Once the senior got close she sent a rocket towards goal. Hitting off the far left post, the ball would take a lucky bounce and roll into the right side of the net past the keeper. With the pace Atkinson was traveling when she shot, the keeper had minimal time to adjust to the shot.
Following the game head coach Vernon Croft spoke about the up and down tempo of the game.
“It was a back and forth game. I think we saw two very contrasting styles of play… Late in the first half they really made it into an ugly game, and I think we bought into that.”
For Coach Croft though, he couldn’t have been more proud of his team for their true commitment to the team and fighting through to the end. The Zips will now open up their conference schedule September 26th at Ohio University. With six home MAC matches, getting away results for the Lady Zips will be extremely important.