Women's Soccer Wins Third America East Title In Four Years
Score: UAlbany 5, UMass Lowell 1
Location: Tom & Mary Casey Stadium in Albany, N.Y.
Records: UAlbany (14-6-2, 5-2-1 AE); UMass Lowell (7-9-5, 4-3-1 AE)
Short Story: Freshmen Jasmine and Jada Colbert star for UAlbany to secure the Great Danes’ third America East title in four years.
Coach Bochette: “At this point you’re so happy for the players. It’s their hard work, their effort, their mentality, positivity, and diligence that makes this happen. All the success we’ve had over the last few years is down to them. We have a senior class right now who have won three out of four America East titles. I think that speaks pretty loudly to who they are and what they’re all about and how they compete.”
- UAlbany outshot UMass Lowell 23-8, including 12-1 in the first half
- Eight of UAlbany’s first-half shots were on target
- Mariah Williams took seven of UAlbany’s 12 first-half shots
- UMass Lowell goalkeeper Julia Schneider made nine saves, including six in the first half
- Only two of UMass Lowell’s shots were on goal
- Five Great Danes recorded multiple shots
- UAlbany scored the most goals in an America East title game since Hartford scored eight in 1997
For the third time in four years, the University at Albany women’s soccer team has claimed the America East Championship. The Great Danes, three-seed in the 2018 tournament, defeated the four-seed UMass Lowell Riverhawks by a final score of 5-1.
The game, in which UAlbany avenged a regular-season loss to the Riverhawks, featured four of the five major conference Player of the Year selections from the 2018 season. UAlbany boasted Striker of the Year Mariah Williams, Defender of the Year Caroline Kopp, and Rookie of the Year Jada Colbert, while UMass Lowell fielded Midfielder of the Year Rachel Morrier.
UAlbany entered today’s championship game riding a five-game winning streak during which they have outscored their opponents 10-0. To reach the title game, they defeated six-seed New Hampshire at home in the quarterfinal round and avenged a regular-season loss to two-seed Hartford away in the semifinals. UMass Lowell advanced past five-seed Vermont in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals and upset top-seed Stony Brook 2-0 in their semifinal matchup, avenging their 1-0 loss to the Seawolves in the regular-season finale.
UAlbany got on the board right away, when Williams found Jada Colbert with a through ball towards the left side. Colbert ran onto the ball and ripped a shot in stride directly off UMass Lowell goalkeeper Julia Schneider, who was charging to meet the ball. Colbert’s shot deflected off of Schneider and into the net, after only 43 seconds had elapsed in the game.
“There are always nerves in a championship game,” said head coach Nick Bochette. “There was a lot of anticipation and excitement, especially with the long layover after the semifinals. Maybe that twinged on overexcitement, so that first goal really does go a long way to settle us down and let us know that the game plan is going to work and that we’re going to be in it from the start. Any time you can get an early goal like that is massive.”
Williams initiated a second scoring play in the 20th minute, reaching the UMass Lowell baseline and drawing the ball back to Jasmine Colbert, who took her shot from the top of the Riverhawk six-yard box and into the back of the net to put UAlbany up 2-0.
In the 23rd minute, UMass Lowell final had its first scoring opportunity after drawing a free kick deep in UAlbany territory. Morrier fired her attempt right at the goal, missing just high off the crossbar. The ball ricocheted downwards, but ultimately bounced out of play for a goal kick before anyone could get a solid touch.
UAlbany held its 2-0 lead heading into halftime. The Great Danes took 12 shots in the first half, seven of which came from Williams. Schneider made six saves in net for the Riverhawks in the first 45 minutes, while UAlbany goalkeeper Andrea Leitner was not tested beyond Morrier’s free kick.
Jasmine Colbert notched her second goal of the game in the 61st minute following the halftime break to put UAlbany up 3-0. On a set piece taken by Kopp, Colbert faked a touch, allowing the ball to go past to Meghan Cavanaugh, who sent it back to Colbert for the shot into the far side of the goal.
Following the Danes’ third goal, UMass Lowell stepped up the pressure in an effort to cut into UAlbany’s lead. Another free kick from Morrier just missed the mark, and in the 73rd minute, Abigail Drezek ripped a shot from deep that soared just over the UAlbany crossbar.
UMass Lowell finally broke through in the 76th minute when Lily Fabian took a shot off a one-touch pass from Veronica Morrier that sailed just over the head of Leitner and into the back of the net. Soon after, Leitner disrupted a UMass Lowell break, charging to meet the play inside the UAlbany box and keeping her team’s two-goal advantage intact.
“Andrea made a big-time play there,” said Bochette. “And that’s something she’s done all this year. She’s developed so much in that aspect of her game. She’s done so well in keeping composed and keeping her position and keeping engaged at all times. That play makes a 5-1 game look easy, but if instead that play makes it 3-2 it becomes an entirely different game.”
In the 78th minute, Jasmine Colbert set up Cavanaugh with a through ball deep in Riverhawk territory. Cavanaugh’s shot deflected just off the outstretched hand of Schneider and into the back of the net to put UAlbany back up by three. Cavanaugh nearly had another goal in the 82nd when her shot just skipped over the top of the crossbar from 25 yards out.
“That was the dagger I think,” said Bochette. “And credit to UMass Lowell for coming out and putting us under pressure in the second half. They played like the championship-caliber team that they are. But that was it for us. We just needed to get a foothold back on the game. When we’re attacking, they’re driven back. And when that goal goes in, that’s how finish off a game as opposed to letting an opponent hang around.”
Thre Great Danes would notch one final goal in the 88th minute when Cavanaugh and Jada Colbert combined to set up Christina Cernuto on a through ball that Cernuto finished into the far side netting. UAlbany would go on to win the game by the same score, 5-1.
The five goals UAlbany scored were the most by a single team in an America East title game since Hartford defeated Towson 8-0 in 1997, as well as the most the team has scored in a single game this season.
Williams was named Most Outstanding Player for the tournament, and was joined on the All-Tournament team by Cavanaugh, and Jasmine and Jada Colbert. Bochette wins his first America East title as the program’s head coach, having previously won as an assistant on the staff in 2015 and 2016.
Next: UAlbany advances to the NCAA Tournament. They will learn their opponent during the selection show on Monday, November 5 at 4:30 p.m.