Inferno Rush loves New York, especially western New York after this past weekend.
The team captured the East Conference regular season title with a 3-1 victory over the Rochester Lady Lancers in Rochester Saturday and a 4-2 win over the Western New York Flash in Buffalo Sunday.
Here is a recap of the action.
SATURDAY, JULY 7
ROCHESTER LANCERS 1, INFERNO RUSH 3
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Inferno got its weekend in Western New York off to a fine start as it defeated Rochester 3-1 at Marina Auto Stadium. In a match where points were vital for both teams, it was the hosts who got on the board first as Brooke Barbuto continued her fabulous season by burying her eighth goal in the 27th minute. It was a tremendous solo effort from the former Stony Brook University product as she made a winding run through the attacking third and ripped a shot from the top of the box past goalkeeper Kelly O’Brien. But the Lady Lancers lead was short-lived as in the 38th minute, Week VIII UWS defensive player of the week Ashley Chilcoat dispossessed her defender in the midfield and played a well-weighted ball inside the area to Haley Crawford, who slipped it past keeper Kenna Kosinski for the equalizer. Moments later, the Rush went ahead as Kendra Jones played a cross to Crawford from the left flank and the James Madison University product half-volleyed the service home for her second of the day. Rochester almost equalized right after Crawford’s second as Taylor Wingerden hammered a shot off the post. The Lady Lancers threw caution to the wind in the second half as a loss would make their journey for a playoff spot much more challenging, but the Inferno defense wouldn’t break. Eventually, the visitors scored an insurance goal in second-half stoppage time when Ryelle Shuey lobbed Kosinski from 30 yards after the Lady Lancers failed to clear their line. The result didn’t eliminate Rochester from a playoff spot but to reach the East Conference vhampionship game, it must defeat Western New York and get some help from elsewhere.
NEW JERSEY COPA FC 2, NEW ENGLAND MUTINY 3
WEST WINDSOR, N.J. – It was a must-win game for both New Jersey and New EnglandSaturday afternoon as anything less than three points for either side would eliminate them from postseason contention. Kate Howarth continued her fine campaign by getting the scoring started in the 10th minute when she corralled a loose ball that was knocked down from a cross and put it away. Not more than a minute later, Howarth bagged her second of the day as after holding the ball up in the middle of the field, she sent a ball out wide to Melina Couzis, who whipped in a cross to the back post for Howarth to finish off. The Mutiny extended its lead to 3-0 in the 24th minute as Syracuse University striker Sydney Brackett scored her fifth goal of the season by ripping a left-footed effort from the top of the box past a helpless Courtney Brosnan in goal. Jeanine Nunez pulled a goal back for Copa in the 24th minute by hammering home Alana O’Neill’s low cross. That 3-1 scoreline held through halftime and through the early stages of the second half, before Nunez scored her second in the 66th minute. The two-goal day for the Adelphi University product was the fourth two-goal game of her UWS career, as she had one in the 2016 season and two in 2017. Copa was eliminated from postseason play with the loss.
LONG ISLAND ROUGH RIDERS 9, WORCESTER SMILES 1
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – As results starting coming in from elsewhere in the East Conference, Long Island needed to keep pace with the rest of the pack with a win. The Rough Riders got off to a quick start against Worcester as Adelphi Unversity product Morgan Santoro scored in the fourth minute. But the Smiles, after all the struggles that they have experienced the last few weeks, pushed for the equalizer and scored their goal in the 15th minute from Jessica Ong. Kayla Saagar scored the go-ahead tally in the 28th minute and while Smiles’ goalkeeper Brittany Henderson had a busy first half, it looked like the 2-1 score would hold to halftime. But Saagar scored her second of the day in the 44th minute and gave the Rough Riders all the momentum heading into the locker room. And they used that extra boost of confidence by scoring six goals in the second half. Santoro bagged three in the second stanza, giving her four on the day, while Erica Modena, Christine Tesoriero and Marisa Garcia each tallied one. Henderson despite her valiant effort in the Worcester goal, was pulled after 66 minutes but not before posting a UWS-season high 18 saves. Jillian Zinkus stopped two shots for the Smiles in relief while UWS Week VIII team of the week selection Kelsey Daugherty stopped two in the winning effort.
WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH 1, CONNECTICUT FUSION 2
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Saturday night’s contest at D’Youville College was a monumental one. A win for the Flash would have all but solidified its spot in the conference championship game while a victory for the Fusion would keep its postseason hopes alive. After earning only one point in its last three matches, Connecticut wanted to get off to a fast start on the road and University of Hartford product Chanel Johnson stepped up to the challenge. She netted a brace inside of 25 minutes, scoring her first in the eighth minute by latching onto Stephanie Santos’ service and beating goalkeeper Megan Tock and finished off a chance in the 24th minute to give her side a two-goal cushion. That was when the Flash started picking up the urgency and started pressing every chance it could. Fusion goalkeeper Meghan Dalton was on her game, as she thwarted attack after attack and ended the day with a season-high eight saves. Chloe Deysler ended Dalton’s bid for a shutout with an 84th-minute tally but the hosts couldn’t score an equalizer. With Connecticut playing twoce next week, two wins and the Flash losing one of its two remaining games would put the expansion side in the conference game.
SUNDAY, JULY 8
WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH 2, INFERNO RUSH 4
BUFFALO, N.Y. – For the second consecutive weekend, Inferno swept its two-match weekend, completing its Western New York swing by defeating the Flash on a warm afternoon at D’Youville College. The Rush clinched the top spot in the East Conference regular season and a berth in the conference championship game. After scoring a brace in Saturday’s win at Rochester, Haley Crawford was at it again by giving the Rush a lead in the 11th minute, extending her goal-scoring streak to four. The Flash was without Carissima Cutrona Saturday evening but got her back for Sunday’s contest and the University of Buffalo striker was influential for the hosts’ first goal, as she assisted Marcella Barberic’s 35th-minute equalizer. After the 1-1 scoreline held through halftime, the show was Crawford’s as she scored three times inside of 10 minutes after the second half kickoff to put the game out of reach. The JMU striker tallied goals in the 47th, 51st and 55th minutes, raising her season total to 10 goals, and nine in a four-game stretch. Cutrona picked up a consolation goal in the 89th minute, her eighth strike of the season. The Flash still has a realistic chance of meeting the Rush in the conference championship as a win against Rochester at home next week and having Connecticut fail to win either of its final two games will be enough to secure their spot.