LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. — One goal was all it took for University of New Hampshire (UNH) women’s soccer (2-3-1) to beat Siena College, snapping a six-game road losing streak for UNH and handing them their first win since their season opener on Aug. 19.
It was sophomore defender Ella Dudley who provided the lone goal Thursday afternoon for the Wildcats and it was fellow sophomore Alivia Kelly who set her teammate up. Kelly launched a free kick that bounced off the crossbar and found Dudley. The second-year defender rose to meet it and lofted it past an outstretched hand from Siena’s senior goalkeeper Leslie Adams.
Dudley’s marker wasn’t the only chance for the Wildcats, however. The team tallied five shots on goal alongside 11 corner kicks and sustained pressure throughout 90 minutes of play.
Head coach Steve Welham noted that the team’s execution was strong, but it’s an area where the Wildcats can continue to grow.
“We needed to find the back of the net and we’ve done that. Hopefully, that can continue, and we can build from this.”
This is the Wildcats first road win since Oct. 20, 2019, when they bested the University of Hartford 1-0. A fact which Welham knows but doesn’t believe means much.
He noted that the teams the Wildcats lost to during the streak were quality opponents who will help get the team ready when conference play begins Sept. 19.
“Yes, it’s great to get a win on the road, but with all that said, it helps us have success going forward to conference play,” Welham said.
Amidst the win, there was one player absent for the Wildcats. Fifth-year senior and co-captain Francesca Picicci, who has started every game this season and is tied for third in goals did not play Thursday afternoon.
Welham said Picicci is day-by-day, but she will not be available for UNH’s next game Sunday. He added that further testing will be done to determine the extent of her injury.
“We have to wait and see where she’s going to be. Fingers crossed that she’ll be back soon,” Welham said.
Senior defender Jamie Irwin filled Picicci’s void in the starting lineup for the Wildcats. It was her first-ever start with the team and her first action this season since the opener against Merrimack where she logged 22 minutes.
Welham thought Irwin’s experience and versatility was a huge lift for the Wildcats in the wake of Picicci’s injury.
“[Irwin] is organized; she’s composed. She can communicate with our entire backline. She’s a leader. There’s a lot of good things she does really well and there’s a lot of good things she does incredibly well,” Welham said.
Another player Welham mentioned stepped up for the ‘Cats was senior forward Julie Cane. He praised the power, strength, pace and intelligence she brings to the field for the team, especially in the closing minutes.
“She does a great job managing the game for us and turned her game up in the moments that she had to. We like to shut them down for the last five minutes of the game and she led us in that direction,” Welham said.
On the other side of the ball, it was another strong night for UNH’s defense. Siena was held to six shots, three of which were on goal and one corner kick.
Senior goalkeeper Cat Sheppard registered her third shutout of the season and made three saves during the game. It was her last two that helped preserve the Wildcats’ lead and hand them the win.
With 32 minutes left in the game, Siena stormed into the Wildcats territory with sophomore
Annie Bagnall leading the charge. The ball found junior Caitlin Wania who sent a crosser that found senior Carrie Krohn who was streaking towards the net. Krohn lifted her foot to tap the ball in, but instead it landed into the hands of Sheppard who made the save look easy.
Roughly 20 minutes later, Siena mounted their last chance of the night. Following a cross, the ball found fifth-year senior Jayanna Monds who chipped one past Dudley and towards Sheppard’s near post. UNH’s senior goalkeeper tracked the ball and dived out, nestling it between her gloves and thwarting the final challenge of the night.
The Wildcats will stay on the road next game, heading to Nickerson Field for a 1 p.m. Sunday matinee with Boston University (2-4-1, 0-0-0).
Photo courtesy of Carlisle Stockton