Rough Riders Hold Off Spirit Reserves
Hawkins scores game-winner in 78th minute

Long Island Rough Riders News Release -

Sunday, June 30, 2013

PLAINVIEW, N.Y. - The Long Island Rough Riders seized their last chance to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot with a 1-0 win against the Washington Spirit Reserves Saturday night. In a technically strong, high-paced game, a Grace Hawkins goal in the 78th minute decided the match against the Spirit Reserves, who looked like the stronger side for the majority of the game.

The match proved to be the expected high-class meeting between two strong sides. Early in the game, both teams impressed the audience with quick passing and battled for control of the midfield. Tiffany Brown’s attempt in the 16th minute started a 30-minute attacking phase for the Reserves. Her header in the 35th minute missed the goal but three minutes later, Rough Riders goalkeeper Diana Poulin saw some work coming her way. Brown’s shot from the top of the box was an easy catch for Poulin.

When Molly Menchel aimed for the left upper 90, the Rough Riders goalie had to show her skill to tip the ball over the crossbar. The Rough Riders had their most dangerous moment of the first half in the 42nd minute when Hawkins’ through ball was too fast for Gabby Charno, who had made a run up the field. Poulin came up with another excellent play to save Alex Doll’s shot from the left angle, keeping game scoreless going into halftime.

Washington was eager to keep the Rough Riders out of the playoff range and entered the second half strong. Doll beat Kerry Ann O’Conner on her left flank but was stopped in the last moment by Charno. With a collective defensive effort, the home team was able to survive the dangerous 15 minutes after the break.

In the Rough Riders' best phase of the game, Amanda Epstein’s shot in the 60th minute missed the goal and Marissa Mertens was too surprised to react when the ball landed in front of her feet after a cross in the 64th minute.

Two minutes later, the Spirit Reserves took over again but Danielle Hubka and Hayley Siegel’s shots from inside the penalty area were blocked by O’Connor. The home fans held their breath when Katie Yensen broke through on her left flank but Poulin was there to keep her side in the game.

The next and last dangerous Rough Riders moment came in the 78th minute when Hawkins was given space on the right flank. She received a deflected ball and fired a low shot to the left corner of the goal past Reserves goalkeeper Dijana Haracic to give the Rough Riders the 1-0 lead.

The visitors tried everything in the search for the equalizer and tested the Rough Riders' defense multiple times in the remaining 10 minutes of the game. Kelsey Pardue chipped the ball past Poulin in the 85th minute, narrowly missing the net. The Rough Riders goalie had to come up with a clutch save when Yensen fired a ball from 18 yards with two minutes remaining on the clock.

Hubka had the final opportunity of the game when she shot the ball over the crossbar in stoppage time.

This win keeps the Rough Riders’ playoff hopes alive. They remain in third place in the Northeastern Conference with 15 points. The Spirit Reserves remain in second with 18 points.

The Rough Riders return to Cy Donnelly Stadium on Saturday, July 6 when they take on the conference-leading Virginia Beach Piranhas at 5 p.m. ET. Tickets are available online at or at the ticket box on game day (opens 60 minutes before kickoff).