Liadka’s last-second goal powers Lakers past Nazareth

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Every second matters in the world of sports, and freshmen Nikki Liadka’s goal with six seconds remaining in overtime proved that, as the Lakers pulled out a thrilling victory over Nazareth College, 2-1, on Tuesday at Laker Field

The game was filled with drama, with Liadka netting two goals in the waning moments of regulation and overtime, respectively. Both goals came off free kicks and were beautifully placed by junior Stephanie San Antonio, who took nearly all of the Lakers’ free kicks on the day.

The victory was a big one for the Lakers as the team improved to 4-3 on the year.

"We needed to win," Liadka said.

Things were looking grim for the Lakers in the first half with Nazareth controlling the time of possession and tripling the Lakers in shots on goal. Sophomore goalie Christina Fergosi made five of her seven saves during the first half for the Lakers. Fergosi played solid when it was her time to make a save; the Oswego State defense handled the rest.

The lone goal for Nazareth came in the 16th minute of the first half. Kelly Kuhn sent a kick into the box for Nazareth off a corner kick that Fergosi mishandled when she came out to play the ball. Fergosi proceeded to foul Nazareth forward Christine Belding in the box, giving Kerry Gannon a penalty kick. Gannon placed the ball into the lower right side of the net, putting the Golden Flyers on top early.

That was the only mistake on the day for Fergosi, who shut the door after the penalty kick. Coach Brian McGrane liked what he saw out of his sophomore goalie.

"I thought she really came out commanded the box well," McGrane said. "It’s an unfortunate break, she’s going for the ball and the ref sees it differently, but overall she was huge for us."

Like most games at Laker Field, the wind played a factor in the shots on goal department. Shots for both teams sailed wide or high numerous times as each team tried to bring home the victory.

The Lakers almost caught a break in the first half when junior Liz Conrad took a shot on net and the Nazareth keeper, Hillary Simon, misplayed the ball momentarily after sliding to make the save. The ball escaped Simon’s grasp for a few seconds, but there were no Laker players in the area to capitalize and the team went into the half down a goal.

Coming out of halftime, Oswego State picked up the pace. The Lakers were winning the loose balls and pushing the tempo, but still could not find a way to put the ball in the back of the net.

Oswego State had a free kick just outside of the 18-yard-box with freshman Melissa Sluka taking the kick. Sluka hit the ball well, but sent it just over the crossbar, ending the Lakers’ scoring chance.

With less than 15 minutes left in regulation, Nazareth midfielders Sarah Eichelberger and Meagan Rivera each missed shots taken from outside the 18-yard-box that could have sealed the game for the Golden Flyers, but instead gave the Lakers a glimmer of hope.

As the clock wound down on the Lakers’ chances, San Antonio was setting up for a free kick in Nazareth territory. She sent a cross into the box and found Liadka who tied the game with a header in the 89th minute.

"We wanted to play quick, but understand that if we can wait until the last possible second to play the ball we limit them having enough time to counter us," McGrane said.

The Lakers used that same strategy again in the second overtime period, which yielded the same result. San Antonino again sent the ball into the Nazareth box off a free kick and found the foot of Liadka, securing the victory for the Lakers with 6.5 seconds to play.

"I just thought we did a good job, this was a big home victory," McGrane said. "Now we go on the road for six straight, four of them in-conference, so that’s going to be another hurdle."

The Lakers start their road trip against SUNY Institute of Technology on Tuesday, Sept. 29.