The overtime period was less than kind in a two-game America East conference stint over the weekend.
After playing four conference teams and emerging unbeaten, UNH suffered its first two losses of the conference campaign. On Thursday, Oct. 13, the Wildcats fell 2-1 to the defending America East champion Albany Great Danes. The following Sunday, Oct. 16, UNH traveled to Orono, Maine to take on rival Black Bears. Another overtime goal resulted in a 1-0 loss, bringing the team down to 3-2-1 in conference play with only regular season games left to play.
“That is the game of soccer,” head coach Steve Welham said. “When you do not finish your chances on one end the other team will finish theirs [on the other end].”
The Wildcats struggled to find the back of the net this past weekend. Sydney Griffin was the only goal-scorer of the weekend as she fired a shot past Albany goalkeeper Chloe Borasky that gave the ‘Cats a one-goal lead. Outshooting both opponents 37-33, execution was a weak spot and driving factor in competitive defeats. Leading scorer Brooke Murphy was held in check, as she was held to zero goals offensively and three shots on goal that were all saved.
Despite the result, the Wildcats started off strong against the Great Danes. UNH provided the game’s first shots and sustained solid offensive pace through the first goal recorded by Griffin. Albany broke the Wildcat wall at 67:47 of the second period when Mariah Williams found an opening past UNH goalkeeper Mimi Borkan to tie the game at one. Williams’ goal sparked a flurry of shots coming from the Great Danes, but Borkan kept the game tied with 10 second-half saves and overtime was forced.
A tightly contested game ended with a controversial goal in overtime. Caroline Kopp corralled a corner kick that she headed in for the game-winner. Borkan appeared to be screened on the play and a potential foul could have been called, according to Welham.
“There was a potential of a foul that some referees call but in the end it was a good challenge by the opposition that resulted in a well-executed goal,” Welham said.
The ‘Cats stayed on the road Sunday to face their next challenge against Maine. Both teams showed defensive prowess, as 37 shots on goal resulted in zero goals through 90 minutes of play for both teams. In the first overtime period, the ‘Cats took control. UNH outshot Maine 3-1, including a near goal from Brooke Murphy off a corner kick. But eventually, the ‘Cats failed to hang on again, as Vivien Beil scored the game-winning as well as the only goal in double overtime.
“We were pushing hard for the win. We outshot them 21-16 and we were unable to clear our lines,” Welham said. “The ball deflected right to their best player [Beil] who took a low hard shot that beat [Borkan].”
It’s clear as a result of this weekend’s games, execution will have to be better moving forward as the regular season begins to close. Welham understands this issue and said that he believes the return to Bremer Field on Thursday, Oct. 20 vs. Stony Brook will help fix that.
“[We] need to execute and finish our chances in front of [the] goal. We had several but were unable to capitalize,” Welham said. “Playing at home is always a boost for us… We are excited to have [Stony Brook] on our home turf.”
For more information on the UNH women’s soccer team, follow Brian on Twitter @bdunny17.