The UNH women’s soccer team (4-4) went to battle in Hanover, N.H. this past Thursday against their in-state rival, the Dartmouth College Big Green (5-1).
The theme in every Wildcat game has been their defense and goalkeeping, and that was no different against Dartmouth. While these aspects have been a large part of UNH’s success thus far, they will look to limit their usage as much as possible.
The Big Green came out with a determined mindset as they accumulated two shots on net in the first 10 minutes of the half but had multiple other promising scoring opportunities.
Senior midfielder Kaylan Williams struck back in the 11th minute when she took two defenders with her into the 18-yard box, but ultimately misfired with her shot into the Big Green defense.
UNH started to gain some offensive momentum at this point in the match, but after first-year forward/midfielder Whitney Wiley sent an errant cross to senior forward Ally Reynolds in the 18th minute, the Dartmouth attack was back in business.
Evidence of this came in the 22nd minute when UNH sophomore goalkeeper Cat Sheppard fumbled and eventually redirected a 35-yard Dartmouth free kick to another Big Green player’s feet, but she was unable to capitalize on the chance. This was the final major scoring opportunity for either squad in the first 45 minutes.
Play was back-and-forth in the second half until 75th minute when senior midfielder Liz Lane was fortunate enough to gather a muffed clear attempt by Dartmouth junior goalkeeper Mariel Gordon. Lane only had Gordon to beat, but both she and the ball got caught up with her counterpart before she could fire a shot on net, leaving the golden chance unsuccessful.
From there on, the Big Green flexed their offensive muscles on UNH’s stout defense. The Wildcats were able to hold on by denying multiple Dartmouth scoring chances, but with just two minutes left in the rock fight, senior forward Mollie McGorsick was able to get just enough on her shot to squeak it by the UNH goalkeeper.
The last-minute goal was a spear to the heart for Wildcat players and fans alike, and despite the apparent frustration, UNH Head Coach Steve Welham is still looking at the bigger picture.
“We play an incredibly tough schedule… Dartmouth is outstanding. They have already knocked off two ACC teams, and the ability to take a team that deep, it’s a big deal,” Welham said.
When asked about relying heavily on the defense and the lack of scoring production to this point in the season, Welham had nothing but praise for his players and credit for their opponents.
“Sure, we want to get goals, we know we can compete with anyone, and if we score, we have a shot against anybody…but, it’s really hard to score against any of the teams we play.” Welham said.
On the heels of the tough loss to Dartmouth, UNH had to take what they learned in their excruciating loss and apply it to a better effort against Army West Point (3-3-2) last Sunday afternoon.
The Wildcats didn’t get the start they were striving for, as the Black Knights were the better team early on.
Junior defender Emily Torres got the first scoring opportunity when UNH was called for a handball in the box. The ref blew the whistle, she took four steps and proceeded to send a shot wide left of the net.
Lane fired back with a chance in the 17th minute when she got a breakaway after a picture-perfect feed from junior midfielder Sofia Borea, but the attempt ended in a save from junior goalkeeper Sydney Cassalia.
UNH kept their scoring push going with senior defender Caroline Wysocki crossing a centering pass to Lane, where she managed to tip the ball in Cassalia’s direction and eventually cause it to roll through her legs into the net.
Welham was glad to see Wysocki get on the score sheet, and he hopes that she will stay consistent for his squad all season long.
“She has been a positive leader on the field and in training. She looks to get more time and she is working really hard every day,” Welham said.
Lane’s score turned out to be the lone goal of the game as Army’s sophomore forward Trinity Garay was able to muster up a chip shot that clanked off of the crossbar in the 63rd minute, but it was smooth sailing for UNH’s defense otherwise, cruising to a 1-0 win.
UNH’s senior class is by far the most productive and relied upon on the team, and Coach Welham has high hopes for them for the rest of the 2019 season.
“This class really wants to go out on a high note. They already have a conference championship under their belt in 2017…and this is their last first conference game ever and I think they are ready to lead the team,” Welham said.
UNH starts conference play on the road this Sunday, September 22nd against the University of Maryland, Baltimore County at 2 p.m. The America East has multiple powerhouses that the Wildcats will have to overcome, including Stony Brook (4-3), Hartford (3-4-1), and UAlbany (3-3-1), so their challenging non-conference opponents early in the season will most-likely pay dividends.