September 2, 2022 | SPORTS | By Zeke Lloyd | Photo by Michael Braithwaite

They say lightning doesn’t strike twice. But when the women’s soccer team took the field against Army on Sunday, it did.

Just nine minutes into the game, referees called players off the field because of stormy weather. One hour and 45 minutes later, play resumed. Not 20 minutes had passed before lightning was spotted again. The game paused once more.

When the match resumed, it had been almost three hours since kickoff. With only 10 minutes left until a long overdue halftime, Army defender Keira Vesy ’25 scored off a distant freekick. With the delays, soggy field, and one goal deficit, this felt all too similar to the lead Bucknell University took against the Tigers in their game just two days prior.

But that didn’t keep them down. “After Army scored, the whole team responded well,” said forward Erin Ewers ’26. “We came out of the kickoff with high energy and we wanted to put them on their heels.”

Ewers scored two minutes later. Defender Emily Hitt ’25 provided the assist via a free kick.

“I knew that one of Emily’s strengths was her long-lofted kick, so being aggressive in the box and framing the goal was going to increase our chances of scoring,” said Ewers. “Emily had a beautiful ball into the box and I was just able to tap it in.”

Halftime finally came.

As she did in the game against Bucknell, Head Coach Keri Sanchez decided to switch out goalies.

“I think the reason that they put me in for that half was very specific,” said Zahra Cheeseman ’25, who played her second-ever half of Division I soccer on Sunday. “They told me before I went in that they wanted to use my distribution. Every time I got the ball, I had a goal of getting it up the field to our attackers to try and get a few goals back and to try and use their speed up top.”

The other goalie, Ally Wakeman ’23, has started every game this season.

“We’re very different players,” said Cheeseman. “But I think we’ve been very matched last year and this year… I think we’re both playing well.”

In the match against Army, the substitution strategy worked. Working up the field, midfielder Brett Tsamasfyros ’25 received the ball from midfielder Gracie Huebner ’25, launching it into Army’s net. “Gracie played me a great ball,” said Tsamasfyros. “I think we were knocking on their door all second half. And I think putting that away really shifted the momentum.”

From then on, Army lost some of its gumption.

Ewers scored again in the 85th minute. After that, the score didn’t change.

The game marks an important moment for players and coaches as they look at the season ahead. For both Ewers and Tsamasfyros, this was a major first – the two scored their first-ever career goals as Tigers. “It was surreal. I honestly don’t even know what happened,” said Tsamasfyros. “I think I was just so excited.”

Head Coach Sanchez also saw the match as a great launchpad for the team. After playing Bucknell only two days before, the match against Army marked CC’s second win of the weekend.

“That’s our shortest turnaround: playing late on a Friday and playing again on an afternoon on a Sunday… And then with a weather delay. I’m really proud of how the team handled the weather delays,” Sanchez said.

Even though the team is already over halfway to the total number of wins they had last season, Coach Sanchez remained modest.

“We’re just hoping to get a little better every day,” she said.

Some players shared their optimism for the upcoming year. 

“I think it’s just really exciting,” said Cheeseman. “This year we’re fulfilling our potential. We’re working better as a team, and I think that’s showing with our wins that we’re getting. And it’s fun to win.”

Tsamasfyros has more tangible ambitions for the team: “I think we’re going to make it to the tournament and hopefully go to NCAA this year.”

The Tigers will next take on Texas A&M – Commerce at noon on Sunday, Sept. 4 at Stewart Field.

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