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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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Men's soccer ranking

O'grady overcomes leg cramps to spark Women's soccer dramatic win

Tied with Haverford, 1-1, at the end of regulation, Meghan O’Grady sat in front of the Muhlenberg bench wincing in pain.

A little more than 10 minutes earlier she had scored the goal that forced overtime. But in the late stages of the game, her legs began cramping and she had trouble staying on her feet.

Meghan O’Grady
O’Grady leads the Mules with six goals on the year.
But the five-minute break before overtime gave O’Grady an opportunity to get rehydrated and stretch her legs. And when the Mules broke the huddle, O’Grady felt good enough to play and coach Leslie Benintend offered her a quick word of advice before taking the field.

“Coach just said, ‘Go out there and score a goal, finish the game off, and you can come off the field then,’” O’Grady said.

So that’s exactly what the junior forward did.

In the very first minute of overtime, she fired a shot that ricocheted off the right post. The ball bounced back across the front of the goal and O’Grady was able to track it down between a pair of Ford defenders, control it with her left foot and bury a shot in the back right corner of the net.

Muhlenberg’s bench poured onto the field and piled on top of O’Grady after the Mules’ thrilling 2-1 win over the Fords.

“That was an awesome feeling,” she said. “I’m sore, but you’ve got to play through it. We fought really hard and to come back from being one goal down is amazing.”

That deficit could easily have been more, if not for some defensive heroics from goalie Michele Toher.

After a scoreless first 45 minutes, Haverford (5-3, 2-1) stormed out of the break and took a 1-0 lead a mere 59 seconds into the second half.

Less than a minute later, a Mule handball in the box gave the Fords a penalty kick and a chance to take a commanding two-goal lead.

But Toher dove to her right and punched the shot away, to keep the Mules within one.

“Michele stopping that ball really kept us in the game,” O’Grady said. “Going down 2-0 would’ve been hard to come
back from, so for her to save that penalty kick was awesome. She’s a great goalie and that was a great save.”

Toher’s stop awakened Muhlenberg’s offense. The Mules outshot Haverford, 6-2 during the final 30 minutes of regulation.

But Muhlenberg (2-4-2, 2-0) could not connect until O’Grady controlled a long ball on the right side in the 79th minute. She split a pair of defenders, streaked across the box and delivered a perfect shot past the Ford goalie and into the back right corner.

That goal tied the game and set the stage for her overtime dramatics.

With the overtime win — Muhlenberg’s first since 2007 — the Mules remain in first place in the Centennial Conference. Johns Hopkins lost to Dickinson on Tuesday, making Muhlenberg the only remaining unbeaten CC team. The win also gives the Fords, ranked No. 7 in the Mid-Atlantic Region, their first conference loss of the year.

And according to O’Grady, it gives the Mules confidence that if they keep fighting, they will almost always have a chance to come back.

“In order to do well in the conference we had to win this game, and we knew that coming in,” O’Grady said. “They scored early, but we’re a team that tends to go down but then we come back. This was just a great team effort and an awesome win.”
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