The UNH women’s soccer team (10-7, 5-3) was able to win convincingly against an inferior UMass Lowell squad (4-11-2, 3-4-1) this past Thursday.
Both senior forwards Ally Reynolds and Kaylan Williams dominated the tempo of the game with their collective pressure on the River Hawks’ defense and goalkeeper.
Williams was able to start the game off with her precise passing in the 3rd minute, as she was able to serve a ball to Reynolds inside the 18-yard box. There, Reynolds was able to get herself a good angle to the goal and send the ball into the top left portion of the goal with her non-dominant left foot.
Just 14 minutes later, Williams was able to get a goal of her own. She benefitted off a pin-ball sequence where a UNH free kick bounced off a River Hawk and then proceeded to ricochet off the crossbar. This string of events ended with the ball at Williams’ right foot, and she was able to push the ball into the net to give the ‘Cats the 2-0 lead.
The senior star was not done putting the ball in the net as she bottled up the UMass Lowell graduate goalkeeper Annerens Tijm, who was trying to carry the ball. Williams was able to steal the ball from her and then shoot it with her powerful right foot into the back of the lower left side of the net.
The River Hawks were able to generate some offensive in the middle of the first half when it seemed as though UNH’s offensive pressure let up. They scored their first and only goal when junior midfielder Giulia Rabbito fired a shot that was redirected off a UNH defender and then into the net.
UNH furthered their domination from this point on and they were able to tack on two more goals before the clock hit 90 minutes. Both first-year midfielder Whitney Wiley and senior midfielder Liz Lane were the ones to deliver those goals, as they brought offensive support to Williams and Reynolds later in the match.
The 5-1 win gave the Wildcats a positive mindset going into their first-round playoff game against Binghamton (10-6-2, 3-3-1). This past Sunday, UNH came out fast against the #5 seed in the America East Tournament and eventually advanced to the second round after a 3-2 win in Durham.
The first-half push from the ‘Cats was led by their ability to get shots on goal. They were able to put together seven scoring chances in the first 20 minutes of the match and UNH put six of those chances on net.
Although the Wildcats put constant pressure on the Bearcats in the opening 20 minutes, they were not able to put the ball in to the net until the 28th minute. At that time, Lane sent a centering pass to Reynolds where she one-touched a pass to Williams. Williams then deposited a shot into the opposition’s net to open the scoring.
UNH Head Coach Steve Welham felt as though Binghamton continued to do what they did in their first matchup.
“This game was kind of about finding out what they were doing against us. Binghamton showed us something that we haven’t seen all year and that’s a high defensive line in the first matchup.”
Binghamton was finally able to get some consistent offensive continuity in the last 15 minutes before halftime. They evened up the score in the 37th minute when senior forward Sydney Corda flicked up a pass to first-year midfielder Olivia McKnight. McKnight then one-timed the ball that was in mid-air and it went off the crossbar and into the net. This bar-down goal tied the game at one apiece.
Binghamton’s momentum at the end of the first half turned out to be short-lived. In the opening minutes of the second half, Williams slipped behind the Bearcat defense and onto a breakaway. She dribbled for a short distance and then sent a pass to a wide-open Reynolds. The only player she had to beat was the goalie, and Reynolds did it with relative ease to score UNH’s second goal of the game.
The Wildcat’s continued their replenished offensive dominance later in the second half when senior forward Belle Pesante received a pass that perfectly led her in stride and gave her a similar chance to Reynolds’. Her shot was saved by the Bearcat goalkeeper and sent about 20-yards away from the goal where sophomore midfielder Julie Cane capitalized on the rebound to give UNH the 3-1 advantage.
Binghamton found their footing again in the last 10 minutes of the match, but it was too little, too late. The Bearcats got their last goal when junior defender Erin Theiller redirected a ball into the net that came off McKnight’s head.
UNH was able to fend off Binghamton for the final minutes of the game and secure the win. Both Williams and Reynolds led UNH with a game-high three points. This was also UNH’s first win against the Bearcats in the America East Tournament.
Coach Welham knows that at this point in the season, every team can win on any day, and that UNH will have to put their best foot forward every day.
“We have to work on all the little things. There aren’t big margins between us and the teams we play. Everyone is really good. It’s going to come down to if we can get goals, if we can shut them out, and finishing and combining in the final third of the field,” Welham said.
The Wildcats continue play away against the America East #1 seed, the Stony Brook Seawolves on Thursday, Nov. 6 at 6 p.m.