Last season, the Plattsburgh State women’s soccer team dropped two hard-fought road battles to Skidmore and Middlebury College. This year, the Cardinals knew they would play both teams on their home turf and made sure the results were different.

The Cardinals (5-2-1, 0-0-0 SUNYAC) captured victories in both rematches defeating Skidmore 2-1 Saturday afternoon and Middlebury 2-1 in double overtime Tuesday night, and there was no drama shortage in either game.

In its battle against Middlebury, PSUC surrendered an early goal and trailed 1-0 for most of the game, but with 17 minutes remaining, things changed when the Cards were awarded a penalty kick. Anissa Hartmann took the penalty for PSUC and blasted a shot past Middlebury’s goalkeeper to even the score.

The game remained tied 1-1 when regulation ended and headed to overtime. Both teams had quality scoring chances in the first overtime period but couldn’t convert.

In the second overtime, however, the Cards generated a scoring opportunity off a Madeline Saccocio corner kick, and Hartmann, who tied the score, found the back of the net again to seal the team’s fourth straight win. Thinking about the goal after the game, Hartmann was thrilled to help her team.

“I can’t even put into words how excited I am,” she said. “Without my team behind me and everybody playing for each other, that goal never would have happened, so I am just so happy for my team and myself.”

Hartmann should be getting comfortable with being the hero. In the team’s previous game versus Skidmore, she scored the winning goal with one minute and four seconds remaining in regulation to give PSUC a 2-1 win.

The Card’s first goal against Skidmore came early in the first half from midfielder Cassidy Clavet after she received an excellent cross from midfielder Cait Gagen, who said scoring early helps the team gain momentum.

“When one person on the field steps up we all follow,” Gagen said. “The first goal is always the hardest, but once we score, we get it into gear and look for the next one.”

Playing in Plattsburgh has allowed the Cards to find consistency, and PSUC head coach Tania Armellino stressed how crucial the team’s defense has been to its success.

“We have been working so hard on defensive organization,” Armellino said. “I take the saying of ‘defense wins championships’ to heart. I think it’s sincere because you have to keep the ball out of the net, and you also have to be able to attack from the back.”

The Cards have allowed only two goals in their past five games, and the players are building confidence and believe they can maintain their defensive prowess.

“In the beginning, we just had to work out a couple bumps in the road,” said freshman goalkeeper Nichole Gibson, who won her second-consecutive SUNYAC defensive player of the week award, said.

We are getting the hang of it, and we have it down now. We are really bonding as a defense and coming together to keep everything out of the net.”

Coach Armellino said she expects PSUC to play every game with a strong defensive intensity and has high expectations for the squad each game, and she has made it a point to make sure her players realize the importance of this.

“The only expectation Tania has is to get better,” senior defender Madeleine Rattray said. “She wants us to be the best defense in the country, and I think with the way were are going, we can definitely get there.”

After winning its first three home games, PSUC will be beginning SUNYAC play when they travel to take on SUNY Potsdam, winners of seven straight games, at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The Cards believe their non-conference schedule and competition that they have seen to begin the season has prepared them well for SUNYAC competition, but the team knows it faces challenges ahead.

“I think our conference is tough,” assistant coach Frantzy Noze said. “Once you hit conference play, it’s a whole different season. Anyone can upset anybody, so you just have to be ready and take everything game by game.”

Email Joey Lafranca at joseph.lafranca@cardinalpointsonline.com

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