Castleton, Vt. - A late goal by the Simmons Sharks doomed the Spartans to a 2-1 defeat at Spartan Stadium on Saturday in the first round of the Rutland Herald Invitational.
Ali Berkman flicked a header off a free kick into the side netting in the 89th minute to bury the Spartans. The forward got free off a set piece in the middle of the box and was able to redirect the ball into the corner of the net.
Spartan goalkeeper Jessica Binkowski faced a flurry of shots, especially in the first half. Binkowski made two crucial saves in the early minutes to preserve a 0-0 tie throughout the first half, including a point blank save on a breakaway. The freshman finished with five saves on the day.
Castleton struck first with a goal from Mallory Costello in the 65th minute. The forward sliced through the Sharks' defenders and lit up the scoreboard with a laser into the lower left corner. The Spartans' lead didn't last long however, as Greer Gilbert provided the answer for Simmons just three minutes later.
With the score tied at 1-1, both teams traded opportunitiess going back and forth for the final 25 minutes until Berkman's head struck the deciding blow. Simmons goalkeeper Briana Hayes finished the game with 8 saves, earning her first win of the season.
The Spartans outshot the Sharks 20-11 but failed to convert on their chances. The Sharks' defense and physical play kept the home team off balance and unsettled
Castleton falls to 2-1 on the season and will play in the consolation game of the Rutland Herald Invitational Sunday, Sept. 8 at 12pm. Simmons moves to 1-1 and will play at 2:30pm in the championship game.