Angeli delivers game-winner for Conn College in Whale Cup double OT thriller

New London — They huddled on the field looking for a volunteer to take a pressure-packed penalty kick that could win perhaps the wildest game in Whale Cup women's soccer history.

At first, no one spoke up for the Connecticut College Camels.

Then senior Emily Angeli, a reserve without a career point, volunteered.

"If you need me to, I'll do it," Angeli told her teammates.

Angeli confidently stepped to the spot and slammed a low shot into the corner for the game-winner with two minutes remaining in the second overtime for a thrilling 4-3 victory over cross-town rival Coast Guard Academy.

She shook off some nerves to register to her first collegiate goal and keep the Camels unbeaten at 5-0.

"At that point, it's just adrenalin pushing you to finish it," Angeli said. "But I think there's always going to be nerves. I think I just had to focus and take it. I was ready to go.

"First college points ever. It feels really good. To get it in the Whale Cup is cool, too."

Conn coach Norm Riker trusts his players to decide on the penalty kick shooter. He wasn't surprised that Angeli delivered.

"Emily has had an incredible senior season," Riker said. "She's actually been a real catalyst for some of our wins. I think she got in that circle and knew it was her moment and her teammates supported her. And she buried it."

It was a heartbreaking loss for the Bears (1-5), who matched their highest goal scoring output in the Whale Cup.

They were on the verge of earning a hard-fought tie, which would have been the first in series history, until committing a hard foul just inside the box, leading to a penalty kick. They've dropped 19 of 20 Whale Cup meetings.

Coast Guard's Claire Hurley, a senior from Waterford, scored two goals and added an assist, as did Conn College junior Kat Norton.

If not for stellar play of freshman goalie Sarah Schollenberger, the Bears would have never reached overtime. Schollenberger, a converted defender, raced out several times to beat dangerous forwards Mya Johnson (Old Lyme) and Mia Santana (New London) to the ball. She finished with a career-best 17 saves.

"They came ready to play and we certainly made an exciting game out of it," Coast Guard coach Susan Grant said. "Sarah was phenomenal in goal. We were pleased with her performance and our performance as a group."

"Conn is obviously an excellent team and they play well together. So, we keep our heads up and hope it gives us some good momentum going into the weekend to play a tough game like this and do well."

Both teams played with great effort and energy throughout the grueling game. Momentum frequently traded hands.

The Camels had the early edge in play and carried a one-goal advantage in the break. Johnson's pass split the defense and sent Norton on a breakaway. Norton slid the ball past Schollenberger for a 1-0 lead.

The game took a wild and crazy turn in the second half.

The Bears cranked up the intensity and scored twice to take a rare lead in the series. Senior Lizzie Miller headed home Hurley's corner kick about three minutes into the second half. It was Hurley's program record tying 15th career assist.

Hurley's unassisted goal in the 61st minute pushed the Bears in front, 2-1.

Then the fireworks really began, as the teams combined for three goals in a span of six and a half minutes.

Freshman Ana Pavic and Norton each scored three minutes apart to give the Camels a 3-2 edge. It was Norton's team-best fifth goal this season.

Hurley struck again, charging into the box to body home a cross from sophomore Brielle Pearce to tie the game with 13 minutes, 25 seconds left in regulation.

The Camels dominated the first overtime with Johnson and Santana both just missing golden opportunities.

But they survived thanks to Angeli who authored a memorable ending to a memorable game.

"That's the Whale Cup, that's the derby," Riker said. "That's why we love to play it. Coast Guard were absolutely amazing. Susan had a well-prepped team. They're always tough. I just knew in our four years Claire Hurley was going to get us. We're lucky we survived it."

g.keefe@theday.com

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