UWSCafferky’s first tally of season goes for naught as Mutiny concede late goal

Familiar storylines from their first season in United Women’s Soccer (UWS) abounded for the New England Mutiny in their match vs. 2016 East champion New Jersey Copa F.C. at West Springfield High School. For the fifth time this year, the New England scored the opening goal of the match, only to relinquish the lead. And again, the Mutiny (5-4) would pay for it as Copa (8-1-1) completed their regular season with a 3-2 win by scoring the game-winning goal on the last touch of the game.

Camille Bowen - whose defensive miscue was taken advantage of on New England’s first goal of the game - headed home a Jackie Bruno free kick in second half injury time to not only redeem herself for her earlier mistake, but grab the victory for the visitors.

“It was an exciting game,” said Mutiny team owner Joe Ferrara, Jr. “We played well and the women competed for 90 minutes. A couple of mental errors did us in and that cannot happen against an opponent that is hitting on all cylinders right now. Gut-wrenching to lose on the final kick of the game, but it is somewhat poetic justice as set piece defending has been our Achilles heel all season.”

The match started out in the Mutiny’s favor and they forced NJCFC into a defensive error in the 9th minute. Abby Sotomayor pressured the Copa defense deep in their end of the pitch, and intercepted Bowen’s back pass. The forward would dribble in 1v1 on goal and slotted her shot inside the far post past NJCFC goalkeeper Christiana Ogunsami (two saves).

From there, the first half would evolve into a midfield war, as the physicality of the match increased with every minute as the clock ticked towards halftime. But New England would hold firm despite some missed passes and giveaways that gave New Jersey a few glimpses at goal, but nothing of consequence would dent the Mutiny net as they led 1-0 at halftime.

The start of the second half would be a different matter, though, as Copa came out of the gates flying. The pressure would pay off in the 49th minute, as Bruno fed league-leading scorer Krystyna Freda in on goal. New England keeper Annie Ulliac (eight saves) ran out to try and stop the opportunity, but Freda would skillfully place her shot inside the far corner for the equalizer.

NJCFC would go up 2-1 in the 59th minute, as Freda was out wide on the right flank and sent in a ball that looked more like a cross than a shot. Unfortunately for Ulliac, the cross-shot would fly over her head and into the far side netting of the goal. In a match that had no meaning as far as the postseason is concerned, it would have been easy for the Mutiny to capitulate the game after Copa’s go-ahead goal.

But the burgeoning play of defender Jennifer Cafferky for New England this season showed itself, as the Central Connecticut State standout brought some offense to her stellar defending in the 63rd minute. After Stephanie Santos’ corner kick was not cleared by the NJCFC defense, Cafferky gathered the ball and hammered home her shot from close distance inside the upper 90 of the goal for the 2-2 score.

The substitutions of local stars Sharlotte Pernice and Brianna Kenney into the match in the second half gave the Mutiny an injection of pace in their attack, and they pushed forward for the winning goal. But unfortunately as the match went into stoppage time, Meghan Cunningham would receive her second yellow card of the match. The ensuing red card meant New England would play with 10 players as they faced a free kick in their defensive third.

Bruno’s free kick from wide out on the right flank would sail towards the back post, and Bowen would beat the Mutiny defense to the ball. Her header went in inside the far post and the final whistle blew as she and her teammates celebrated the goal.

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