By Sam Rabuck, Staff Writer
The UNH women’s soccer team came out flat and dropped a close game to Siena College (3-4-1) on Sunday, 2-1.
Head coach Steve Welham felt that this loss is another learning experience for his young team.
“We didn’t feel like we showed up,” Welham said. “We weren’t ready to go. As a young team, we’re still learning and understanding how to come back from a positive performance Thursday night and play a whole game.”
The lack of focus and energy from the start put the Wildcats at a disadvantage early on, when Siena backer and New Hampshire-native Anna Grant took advantage of a well-placed corner kick and scored in the 17th minute of play.
Giving up that goal seemed to be the wake up call the Wildcats needed as the intensity and level of play picked up from the Wildcats shortly thereafter.
Time after time, the Wildcats broke through the Siena defense but came up empty-handed.
Senior midfielder Caroline Murray had several excellent scoring chances, hitting the crossbar in the 27th, 52nd and 75th minute.
“We were unlucky, but that’s life. So it’s important to just keep going at it and I think eventually it will come for us. We’re just still figuring some things out,” Murray said.
The Wildcats’ second half of play was noticeably stronger, limiting Siena’s scoring chances and creating several chances of their own.
The Wildcats had six corner kicks, but failed to convert on any of them.
“We didn’t execute when we had to,” Welham said. “We weren’t able to capitalize on our chances.”
Failing to convert on scoring chances proved to be fatal in the 84th minute when Cassy Landis slipped through the Wildcats defense and found the back of the net, cushioning the lead by another goal.
Less than 30 seconds later, with their backs against the wall, the resilient Wildcats scored off a Brooke Murphy penalty kick. Murphy’s goal cut the deficit in half with six minutes left to play in regulation.
Despite the strong efforts in the closing minutes of play, the Wildcats were unable to get past the strong goalkeeping performance of Siena’s Taylor Booth, a native of Epping, N.H., who posted an impressive eight saves on the day.
“If we had come out in the first half like we did in the second half, it would have been a completely different game,” Murray said.
“We didn’t come out the way we wanted to come out,” Welham said. “It’s hard to spot a team like Siena, or any team a whole half.”
The Wildcats take on the Harvard Crimson (3-2) this Thursday night under the lights at Cowell Stadium at 7 p.m.
While excited to be a part of the first UNH team to play its entire game under the lights, Welham indicated that the Wildcats need to come out with the focus and intensity that was lacking against Siena in order to make the experience truly special.
“Next game we have to play a complete game,” Welham said. “Harvard’s a very good team. It’s going to be a tough game from start to finish, and we have to come out on our A-game from start to finish in order for us to be in an opportunity to have success.”