The UNH women’s soccer team (6-6, 2-2) celebrated their 2019 senior class this past Sunday. Prior to the match, UNH head coach Steve Welham and others guided a ceremony to acknowledge everything that the ‘Cats’ 10 seniors have done for the program.
Seniors that were recognized included: forward/midfielder Liz Lane, forward Belle Pesante, defender Maddie Murdick, defender/midfielder Caitlyn Keenan, defender Caroline Wysocki, defender Megan Rumbold, defender Jill Conry, forward Ally Reynolds, forward/midfielder Megan Kikosicki, and forward/midfielder Kaylan Williams.
When asked about his 10 seniors, Welham expressed his gratitude for them and what they have done for his team.
“We’re going to miss their presence on and off the field. They’ve been the spine of our team for four years,” Welham said.
He added that his seniors have great futures ahead, whether they be in the sport of soccer or not.
“When we recruited them, they were a tough, talented group. They were a nationally ranked recruiting class. They have brought a lot of consistency to the program, and they were great ambassadors for the program. They’ve helped with recruits and have done tremendously well in the classroom. As a coach, you want them (seniors) to have a great four-year experience, but you are equally very proud of what they go on and accomplish,” Welham said.
On the seniors’ special day, the Wildcats faced off against the defending America East conference champions, the UAlbany Great Danes (6-4-3, 3-0-1). The Wildcats were unable to overcome UAlbany’s fire power as they lost 2-0.
It didn’t take the Great Danes long to get a quality scoring chance on sophomore goalkeeper Cat Sheppard, as sophomore midfielder Jada Colbert was able to generate a shot from the right wing that curled into the grasp of Sheppard in the sixth minute of the game.
Just six minutes later, UNH was able to counter with an intercepted throw-in by senior midfielder/forward Kaylan Williams. She collected the ball near the middle of the 18-yard box and was able to fire a strike to the middle portion of the net, but UAlbany junior goalkeeper Sophia Chen was able to deflect out of play.
With just over a minute left in the first half, the Wildcats were able to put more pressure on the Great Dane defense when UNH sophomore midfielder/forward Julie Cane ran full speed onto a rolling ball and sent a shot from the 20 yards out. Her shot was sent away by Chen, and both teams were left scoreless at halftime.
UAlbany opened up the scoring in the 54th minute; a sentence that UNH fans found demoralizing. The Great Danes generated a corner kick that would be taken by junior forward Kendra Harbinger. She placed a beautiful ball into the box where junior defender Katie Gowing was in perfect position to head the ball into the left side of the net.
Gowing was not done however, as she benefitted from a shot by her teammate, junior defender Hailey Summers. Gowing collected the rebound off Sheppard’s diving hands and deposited the ball into the top of goal, giving her team a 2-0 lead.
UNH is now 1-6 when the opposing team gets on the board first, but that also means that they are 5-0 when they score first. Coach Welham believes that this stat says a lot about the importance of the first goal for both his offense and defense.
“It certainly gives you confidence when you score goals…it also shows how resilient we are defensively. We know that if we get a goal against anybody then we have a chance to win. Clicking and finding the right combinations is huge and this is an ongoing work in progress,” Welham said.
Despite dropping to 6-6 on the season, Welham believes in his seniors going into the end of conference play, and he has confidence in the heart that they have shown in recent years.
“We hope that they can lead us to a deep run, and we hope that in the playoffs that we get hot at the right time. We won the regular season championship in 2017, and this group was definitely a big part of that.”
UNH will look to get over .500 once again on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. when they host rival UMaine in Wildcat Stadium.