By Sam Rabuck, Staff Writer
Coming off of four straight losses, the UNH women’s soccer team took care of business on Bremner Field Thursday night, notching the team’s second win of the season, defeating the Bryant Bulldogs 1-0.
Despite playing in foggy, wet conditions that reduced visibility and traction, the UNH women’s soccer team fired on all cylinders and dominated Bryant both offensively and defensively.
The Wildcats played well as a team all night, which is something that head coach Steven Welham has put emphasis on this season in order to be successful.
“No one [player] is more important than the team,” Welham said. “And that’s the biggest thing.”
The Wildcats, led by freshman forward Brooke Murphy and junior midfielder Gabrielle Sloane, dominated the first ten minutes of play—keeping the ball in the offensive zone and relentlessly peppering the net with shots.
Although the Wildcats were unable to convert on any scoring chances in the first half of play despite having an abundance of them, the Wildcats’ defense, led by senior Hannah Blondin, hung tough and kept the Bryant offensive attack at bay by minimizing scoring chances.
The Wildcats’ persistence and focus was rewarded in the 48th minute when Sloane passed a well-placed through ball to Murphy, who drove the ball into the back of the net with authority for her third goal of the season.
“When we’re in practice, we work on playing to that final whistle,” Murphy said. “We knew that until that game buzzer went off, we had to stay focused.”
Murphy’s goal certainly gave the Wildcats momentum, but the game was far from over.
With the need for an equalizer, Bryant picked up intensity on offense and set up several scoring chances in the minutes following.
Despite the increased offensive pressure from Bryant, UNH goalkeeper Mimi Borkan, who leads the America East conference in save percentage (.867), was lights out.
In the 74th minute, things got dicey when the Bryant offense slipped through the Wildcats’ defense, leaving Borkan with a difficult 1-on-1 situation. Borkin, showing her athleticism and poise, dove quickly to her right, breaking up the play and preserving the lead.
“The back line was tremendous, and Mimi has been special in goal all year long,” Welham said.
Though he feels the team still has plenty of room for improvement, Welham was pleased with the team’s improving level of play.
“It was a great performance from start to finish for us,” Welham said. “There were times when we were really knocking into the ball, which is exciting for us.”
Coach Welham and the Wildcats are looking to continue the tenacity and relentless play they displayed tonight in games to come.
“Every time we go out there, we [need to] play a full 90 minutes,” Welham said. “We want to be a proactive team and not a reactive team. We want to go after teams.”
The Wildcats take on the Sienna Saints (1-4-1) this Sunday at 2 p.m. on Bremner Field.