#3 Women’s Soccer back to winning ways behind record-breaking #19 Riley Cook

Cook puts four goals away during route against the York (Pa.) Spartans

People often spend their whole careers trying to break records, but it took #19 Riley Cook just 51 games to do that…again. 

This time she took down two more records in a single game. Both the records for most career goals in program history as well as the record for the leading points getter now belong to Cook. 

After a double overtime draw against the University of Lynchburg last Wednesday (where Cook scored the lone goal for the Captains), the team needed a winning result to help get them back on track and continue to prove that their rank as the third best team in the country is no fluke. 

Rising to the occasion, Cook, as well as the rest of the squad, delivered with a decisive 5 – 1 victory against York (PA.) with Cook earning the title of Women’s Soccer Conference Player of the Week in the process. Immediately after the whistle, the Captains offense began to work their magic, rattling five shots towards #33 Cat McCarty, the goalkeeper for York during the afternoon match. 

Three of those shots were taken by Cook, hoping to best the keeper and secure the Christopher Newport scoring record for herself early. 

It wouldn’t take long before #8 Emily Talotta put on her dancing shoes and waltzed past several York defenders before finding herself inside the 18 yard box with some space. She fired off a low cross towards the middle of the field and found Cook, who had no trouble putting it into the back of the net for the goal which would give her the new record with her 111th career point. 

Undeterred and looking for an opportunity to counter back, the Spartans potentially found an opening. That opening came through #7 Jill McDonald, who made her way onto the field into the defensive line. 

The ball found its way into the Captains defense, but an overpass got away from McDonald. 

With the pressure coming from #14 Rori Englert, who spied an opportunity to make a play, McDonald looked to cut back but got caught on top of the ball allowing Englert to have a breakaway in for a one-on-one situation against #00 Haley Eiser. 

From the top of the 18, Englert would make no mistakes and equalize less than three minutes after the initial goal from Cook. The Captains looked to regain the lead after giving up the goal, but their progress would be halted with a water break in the first half due to the high heat levels on field. 

After coming back out onto the field, the Captains had a plan and looked to quickly tack another goal on the board. Play got started as the ball was passed around to the right side of the defense before making its way to #1 Max Borris on the wing. Using her speed and agility, she bolted down the wing to send in a cross. The cross found the head of #23 Moriah Morton of the Spartans, who unknowingly flicked on a pass to Cook. Cook fired a one-time header into the right side netting of the goal to beat McCarty for the second time that day. 

Both sides continued to try and best each other offensively, but the defenses found their rhythm and would not give up another goal throughout the remaining 25 minutes of the half. Sitting on two goals already, Cook was looking to complete the hat trick on the historic night. Cook had an opportunity to pick up an assist when she sent in a corner kick. McCarty was able to handle a pair of shots coming from #5 Keiley McCarthy and Talotta, making two saves. 

There was another chance to double the lead when Talotta picked up the ball for a throw in. Her throw found Cook who turned on a dime, catching everyone off guard, before letting her shot fly and sail into the side netting to complete her hat trick. The pressure was unrelenting from the Captains, still not satisfied with a two goal lead, who ripped four more shots but only one save would be forced out of McCarty. 

York (Pa.) with possession, found an opportunity for a counterattack and would not waste it. Fueled by smart and accurate passes, the Spartans found their way into Eiser’s front yard, but before a shot could come her way, Borris nudged the ball out of play for a corner kick. The corner found Englert who tried to add to her total but was turned away by Eiser for her first and only save of the game nearly 60 minutes into the match. 

The ball pinballed around the middle of the field before #35 Lulu Manley played a nice ball across the field to #3 Carson Pokorny, situated on the sideline. Pokorny would try to take advantage of her high offensive awareness and register assist number 30 for herself as she played a deep ball over the top, searching for Cook. The ball was played into space to allow Cook to run onto it but out came McCarty in an attempt to clear her lines. At the top of the box, Cook lifted the ball with a first time chip over McCarty to score her fourth goal of the game, and the ninth Captain’s goal in a row scored by Cook. With a half an hour remaining, the Captains were still seeking out opportunities and another would arise as #11 Abby Harrigan recovered the ball after a defensive miscue by York and looked to score her first goal on the season and just second in her collegiate career. 

However, it wouldn’t be her day. She was able to beat McCarty but not the post as the ball ricocheted back into play. It fell perfectly to #22 Hailey Shaw who was in her own zip code and had no trouble with a half volley, for her first goal of the season. The Captains attack would continue to pepper McCarty, but she would refuse to give up another goal on the night. And on the other side of the field, strong defense continued to be a theme featuring #2 Kyan HoSang, #30 Hannah Karas and #33 Montana Coward, as the Spartans were unable to register a single shot after the 60 minute mark. 

Christopher Newport opened Capital Athletic Conference play with a resounding victory as they get set for the next matchups where they will host Southern Virginia University on Oct. 2 and then the University of Mary Washington on Oct. 5. 

In addition, Cook secured her place in the record books on a night highlighted by her four goals which gave her sole possession of the records for all time leading scorer and points getter, breaking the records previously held by Emma O’Reilly (2010-13, 47) and Victoria Perry (2013-16, 109) respectively. 

~Austin Urch, Staff Writer~

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