DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire (UNH) women’s soccer team kicked off their season with a 1-0 win over Northeastern (0-1) Sunday, Feb. 14. The game was the first fall sport to play this spring season following the delay of all fall sports due to COVID-19. The win was a comfortable one for the Wildcats despite the narrow score; the Huskies never looked like a real attacking threat.
UNH entered the game with plenty of question marks. There are 12 first-year athletes on the roster, four of whom started. Northeastern had most of the possession and launched attack after attack into the Wildcats’ end. Despite the possession, Northeastern didn’t ever see a clean scoring opportunity. UNH was able to break out of their half midway through the first half and hold on to possession for long spells.
The first shot on goal of the Wildcats’ season ended up in the back of the net. After Northeastern conceded a corner in the 20th minute, first-year midfielder Anna Hewlett whipped the ball into the box where it was met by the head of first-year center back Alivia Kelly. Kelly’s header froze sophomore goalkeeper Angeline Friel, and the header was fired just below the crossbar into the back of the net.
Neither team had many clear-cut attacking chances for the remainder of the half. But senior captain Francesca Picicci and sophomore Whitney Wiley each registered a shot on goal. The half ended with UNH leading in shots on target by a tally of 5-2.
Northeastern had a strong start in the second half. Much like in the first, the Huskies had lots of possession in UNH’s half but little threat to the goal. Again, UNH was able to flip the pressure and move into the Huskies’ end. Chances came more often for UNH after the first 10 minutes of the second, but neither team could muster any more goals.
Northeastern only really showed urgency in the last five minutes of play. The final gasp was not enough, and UNH took home their first win of the 2021 season. The defense took home their first clean sheet of the season, and junior keeper Cat Shepard had three saves. UNH will look to improve to 2-0 when they face Merrimack College Thursday, Feb. 25. in Durham.
Photo courtesy of Vincent Dejana