Position Change Helps Women's Soccer Win Home Opener

Sunday, September 8, 2013
 

Megan Nehila received a surprise when she showed up for the Muhlenberg women’s soccer team’s game against Delaware Valley: After starting at outside midfielder for the first year-plus of her collegiate career, the sophomore was moving to forward for the Mules’ 2013 home opener.

CJ Graetzer
Graetzer's goal gave the Mules five goals this season, all by different players.
Putting a regular player with no career points at forward might seem like a surprising move to many, but it worked on all counts: Nehila netted her first career goal to open the scoring, and Muhlenberg went on to its second 2-0 win in as many days.

Nehila, who scored eight goals as a forward in her senior year of high school, played in all 19 Mule games last year without a goal or an assist. And just like her first career point was just a matter of time, so was the first Muhlenberg goal against Delaware Valley. The Mules (2-2) dominated play from the start, hitting the post with their first two shots and having a third shot knocked off the line by an Aggie back.

Finally, in the 20th minute, junior Krissy Fioretti – who assisted on all three Muhlenberg goals in the first three games of the season – sent in a long pass from the back that reached the goalie on one hop. The keeper fumbled the ball, and Nehila, like a good forward should, followed up the loose ball and tapped it into the open net with her left foot.

Rachel Manci
Manci, one of six freshmen and sophomores in the starting lineup, goes up for a header in the second half.
“This has been a long time coming. I’m so happy,” said Nehila of her first goal. “I was so excited, I didn’t know to react.”

She and her teammates reacted by keeping up the pressure on Delaware Valley (1-2), a team that defeated the Mules last year. With less than 10 minutes left in the half, sophomore Gabriela De Frutos send in a cross from the endline that slipped past the goalie to the waiting foot of senior CJ Graetzer, who knocked in her 13th career goal.

Although Muhlenberg didn’t score any more, the outcome was never in doubt. The Aggies took only one shot (to 29 for the Mules), which was well wide of the net. Sophomore goalies Jen Mermelstein and Francesca Cobuzzi combined on a shutout for the second day in a row, with the back four of seniors Susan Galgano and Stephanie Tramutola, freshman Rachel Manci and Fioretti keeping the ball far from the goal area for the majority of the game.

The win enabled the Mules to even their record on their second weekend of playing back-to-back days. After dropping their first two games to a pair of regionally ranked opponents, Muhlenberg will head into Saturday’s Centennial Conference opener at McDaniel on a winning note.

“I feel like the first two games were just practice, and this is how we really play,” said Nehila. “Our attitude is amazing. We are such a close team, and the chemistry is there. I think we’re going to do really well this year.”
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