The final two non-conference games of the schedule saw the same singular result: a one-goal loss.
The Wildcats returned home on Thursday to Bremner Field only to fall short to the Harvard Crimson by a 2-1 final. The following Sunday, the ‘Cats hit the road again to play Northeastern and fell a goal shy again, losing 2-1 in Boston.
Thursday night vs. the Crimson was a tough night for UNH offensively. The ‘Cats struggled to push the ball upfield and find an opening past the Crimson back line, while Harvard set the tone off a goal from Joan Fleischman to make it 1-0.
Brooke Murphy, the only goal-scorer for the ‘Cats on the night, broke free and executed a spin move on her defender, leading to her fourth goal of the season.
Though UNH got on the board, the team was blanked the rest of the way, only being held to four shots total in the matchup.
“We just want to compete with them and they are a great team to do that with,” Murphy said. “It was a good, evenly matched game.”
“We didn’t get the opportunities we wanted to in the end but I’m very proud of the effort,” head coach Steve Welham said. “We were right there, we battled them…it was a good game where it could have gone a little bit the other way too.”
The final non-conference bout of the regular season featured the Northeastern Huskies on Parsons Field in Boston. In relatively quick fashion, the Huskies jumped to a 2-0 lead in the opening 11 minutes of the game.
After a brief stalemate, Murphy, who has scored in three straight games, put the ‘Cats within one off of a free kick. Despite UNH’s efforts, the score stood at 2-1 in favor of Northeastern, dropping its second game in a row and falling to 3-4-2 overall.
“Today was particularly disappointing as we did not match Northeastern in the first 10 minutes. Had we done so we could have won the match,” Welham said. “We need to learn from this and we will be ready in [America East] conference play.”
Though the record may look unsatisfying, the Wildcats have no shortage of confidence moving forward. Welham stressed that the non-conference stint featured some of the top teams and players in the nation. Overall, Welham was proud of the team’s ability to contend with tough opponents.
“Overall we can live with this especially since we have played a very solid schedule,” Welham said. “Not many teams in our conference play and compete against some of the teams we put on the docket this year.”
With the remainder of the schedule being conference games, the goal remains simple: win now and take control in the conference standings.
“There is nothing more important and every game three points are at stake,” Welham said. “All that matters is [that] we are ready to go against UMBC next Sunday.”
As Welham said, the road to the America East championship begins Sunday when UNH defends its home turf against UMBC at Bremner Field. The game is set to begin at 1 p.m.
For more information on UNH women’s soccer, follow Brian on Twitter @bdunny17 or visit the UNH athletics website at unhwildcats.com