Beyond the Boxscore: Orlando's quick reaction helps QU fend off Bellarmine

Quincy University's Gabby Orlando moves the ball against Bellarmine's Kira Steinke during the first half Saturday at Legands Stadium in Quincy. | H-W Photo/Michael Kipley
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 11, 2017 12:01 am Updated: Nov. 11, 2017 11:47 pm

Gabby Orlando hasn't forgotten what happened against McKendree in the championship game of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament.

And she's vowed not to make the same mistake twice.

The Quincy University women's soccer team trailed McKendree 1-0 in the GLVC championship when a rebound squirted away from Hawks goalkeeper Megan Swanson and the Bearcats' Alynnah O'Leary pounced on the loose ball and scored with Orlando, the QU junior defender, chasing her from behind.

"Against McKendree, I didn't come back and clear it off the line," Orlando said. "So I thought I really had to get it this time."

Orlando was talking about the play 12 minutes into Saturday's NCAA Division II Midwest Region semifinals against Bellarmine. A shot got away from Swanson, who had stepped up in the penalty area and off the goal line. Orlando slid in behind her and cleared the ball away, denying the Knights to chance to take the lead.

Minutes later, the Hawks went ahead 1-0 as Natalie Quisenberry scored off a corner kick and the second-seeded Hawks advanced with a 2-1 victory at Legends Stadium.

"Sometimes you get caught out of position, especially when you attack a lot," QU coach Dave Musso said. "When it happens, you just have to be athletic and get back on the inside and clear balls. High-level teams are going to put you under pressure. How you handle pressure is very important. Positioning is everything. Having cover and having someone's back is so important."

That's all Orlando thought about in that instance.

"Once I saw Megan drop the ball, I knew I had to come back," Orlando said.

As good as Swanson has been -- a third-team All-GLVC selection has made 91 saves this season -- she's needed the help a time or two of the QU defenders covering along the goal line.

"We all back each other up," Orlando said. "It's what we do."


‘Set piece magic'

Among the points of emphasis Musso wrote on the dry-erase board inside the QU locker room before Saturday's game was "set piece magic."

"It was the third point on there," he said.

The Hawks have been extremely dangerous this season on corner kicks, direct free kicks and restarts all season. Musso wanted them to be cognizant of that and try to create scoring opportunities off one of those plays.

Quisenberry may have had the most dangerous corner kick of all. After Cassidy Foley won a ball on the left side, carried to the end line and earned a corner kick, Quisenberry hooked her shot from right-to-left and inside the back post for the first goal of the game.

"Wow," QU senior defender Maddy Kuhlenberg said. "Mind-blowing goal."

It was Quisenberry's first goal of the season.

"She's got a great shot," Musso said. "You put in there and sometimes it just bends in."

The Hawks have scored five times this season off corner kicks and three goals off free kicks this season.


Plucked out of mid-air

When Kuhlenberg sent the ball from the right corner toward the back post, Cassidy Foley really had only one chance to redirect it cleanly.

She had to volley it out mid-air.

That's not as easy as it may seem.

"I tried to focus and put it on net, put it on frame at least," Foley said.

She put it in the perfect spot. With nine minutes remaining in regulation, Kuhlenberg's pass didn't give Bellarmine goalkeeper Taylor Smith time to react backward and Foley knocked the ball inside the post for the game-winning goal. It was her fifth goal of the season and her third game-winner.

"It kind of caught me off-guard," Foley said. "I was super excited."

And it was arguably the most important goal of the Quincy Notre Dame product's collegiate career.

"I think so," said Foley, a junior forward. "It's up there, definitely."


No overtime this time

The third meeting between Quincy and Bellarmine this season was decidedly different in one very specific way.

It didn't go overtime.

"Thank goodness," Orlando said.

The Hawks won 1-0 in overtime on Oct. 8 in Louisville as senior midfielder Katie Heiligenstein scored off the rebound of a Mary Maloney shot in the 93rd minute. In fact, prior to Saturday, it was the last goal the Knights allowed. In the GLVC semifinals, the Hawks and Knights played to a scoreless tie through two overtimes with Quincy winning a penalty-kick shootout to advance.

Much of the same was expected.

Instead, the Hawks scored once in each half -- that's 25 percent of all goals allowed by the Knights this season -- and avoided any extra time.

"That was great," Kuhlenberg said. "I did not want to do that."


Sweet entry, sweet exit

Of the eight seniors on the QU roster, Kuhlenberg is the only fifth-year senior, having redshirted in 2016 for medical reasons. So she is the only QU player to have experienced what it's like to play in the NCAA Tournament's sweet 16.

Kuhlenberg came off the bench in the Hawks' 2-1 loss to Grand Valley State in the region championship in 2013, bringing and end to an 18-1-3 season that stands as the most victories in program history. This team is one victory shy of matching that mark.

"My freshman year I came in and I was like, ‘Wow, this is what Quincy soccer is all about,'" Kuhlenberg said. "To be back there, it's incredible. I never thought anything could beat that, but this is pretty close."