Ciarrocca's two goals rally 'Dores to overtime win

Aug. 29, 2014

Box Score | Ciarrocca Interview | Greene Interview

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With no timeouts, college soccer coaches have to rely on their players to stick together and rally each other when faced with adverse situations.

On Friday night, Vanderbilt coach Derek Greene witnessed his team grow up a little.

Trailing by a goal late in the second half, the Commodores were determined to fight back against a scrappy, physical Cincinnati team. Behind the first two career goals of freshman Colby Ciarrocca, including the game-winner in overtime, Vanderbilt rallied for a 3-2 win over the Bearcats at the VU Soccer/Lacrosse Complex.

In rallying past Cincinnati (2-1), Vanderbilt avoided a second straight loss and appeared to learn from its setback at Rutgers on Sunday when three second-half goals spelled doom. The Commodores (2-1) also picked up their second one-goal victory. Last year, they lost seven games by one goal.

“I really think they thought, ‘We’re not going to go through this again. We’re still going to get this and we’re going to fight for this,’” Greene said. “I think it is just a belief in each other and trust in each other… We have some really good players right now. We’re still a little bit young but the determination on their faces when we went down 2-1, you could see it.”

Coming off the bench, Ciarrocca tied the game on a header in the 81st minute, thanks to a brilliant cross by her roommate and fellow freshman Cristina De Zeeuw. Standing in the box, Ciarrocca out-jumped a Cincinnati defender and headed a shot just inside the post.

She won the game 12 minutes later. After Erin Myers forced a turnover in the midfield, the junior captain sent a pass up the field to Simone Charley. The sophomore, who scored the first goal of the game, laid the ball off to her left for Ciarrocca. The forward then put on a move to separate from one defender and fired a missile past Cincinnati goalkeeper Natalie Smith. The bench erupted and swarmed the field as the Commodores celebrated their first win in overtime since a 3-2 double overtime victory at Arkansas on Oct. 5, 2012.

“As Simone sprinted forward, the defenders came to her,” Ciarrocca said. “I knew if I made the run she would put the ball right on my foot. It feels awesome to get (the first two goals) under my belt. It was just a great team effort all around.

“I feel like tonight it clicked for me and I was able to feel more comfortable on the field.”

A high school All-American from Montgomery, N.J., Ciarrocca was on Greene’s radar early in the recruiting process. He said the adjustment to college soccer hasn’t been easy for Ciarrocca. But, on Friday, the game slowed down.

“When we saw Colby play three years ago it was a no-brainer that this kid was going to be special,” Greene said. “We wanted her here for what she did tonight. She has been working so hard. The soccer just hasn’t come easy to her right now. Tonight, everything slowed down for her. It looked like it came easy to her. She is so gritty and so tough and works so hard that I think everybody around her finds another level in them when she works hard defensively and it creates problems for the other team.” Katy Couperus scored both goals for Cincinnati in the second half, with the second on a free kick that sliced by Vanderbilt freshman goalie Christiana Ogunsami.

The Commodores’ scored first when Charley notched her first goal of the season and sixth of her career in the 23rd minute on an assist from Kelsey Tillman for an early one-goal lead over the Bearcats (2-1). The Commodores won the shooting battle for the second time in third games with a 20-13 advantage as Charley and Ciarrocca each fired off four shots.

Ogunsami made a career-high seven saves one game after making six stops at Rutgers. Greene said knowing that the 5-foot-11 Ogunsami was behind them in goal gave the team confidence that a comeback was possible.

“It is a great win,” Greene said. “That is a very gritty, athletic, hard-nosed Cincinnati team. What is most important, what we’re most proud of is obviously the fight we showed… Tonight we gritted it out and fought for the victory and I’m so proud of them.”

Vanderbilt will try to win consecutive games and pick up its first road game of the season when it travels to play Memphis (1-0-1) at 6 p.m. on Sunday.



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