Mariano Scores Game-Winner to Lead No. 16 Field Hockey Past Maine 1-0 in America East Semifinal
DURHAM, N.H. – University at Albany field hockey (16-4) will return to the America East final on Saturday to face No. 1 seed New Hampshire. The Great Danes downed Maine 1-0 in the semifinal on Thursday night. Freshman Molly Mariano scored the game-winner in the 56th minute.
“It feels really good to be here for my first America East tournament,” said Mariano. “I couldn’t have scored that goal without my teammates. It was a great pass from Daphne, and I’m excited to play New Hampshire in the final on Saturday.”
The Purple & Gold will face the Wildcats in the final for the second consecutive year at Memorial field.
To start the first half in the 30th minute, Corrine McConville fired a pass down the field to Daphne Voormolen. Voormolen deflected the pass towards the goal and her shot sailed high.
The Great Danes put the pressure on the Maine back line early in the first half, earning three penalty corners in the first 10 minutes. Voormolen had a shot blocked on a penalty corner insertion by Fiori Van Rijswijk for her second shot of the game.
America East Midfielder and Rookie of the Year Paula Heuser had UAlbany’s first good look at the Maine cage in the 20th minute. The freshman lined up on a penalty corner for a shot that required a diving save from the Black Bear keeper.
Maine called timeout with 19 minutes left in the first half, after the Great Danes dominated possession for the first 15 minutes and took four penalty corners. UAlbany entered halftime with a 6-0 penalty corner advantage.
Echo Bretz had a good look at the goal to start the second half. The junior snuck behind the Maine defense, but her attempt was thwarted by the Maine keeper.
Heuser maneuvered around the Maine defense on UAlbany’s seventh penalty corner of the game, but couldn’t find anyone across the circle for the pass with 20 minutes left.
The freshman midfielder didn’t let up in the 57th minute, firing a shot that hit the crossbar. Voormolen took a shot moments later that required a defensive save by the Black Bears to keep from crossing the goal line.
Freshman Molly Mariano knocked in a pass across the circle from Voormolen in the 56th minute to give the Great Danes the 1-0 lead. The goal was Mariano’s sixth of the season.
After Maine nearly evened the score with seven minutes left, Phil Sykes called timeout to regroup.
The Black Bears pulled their goalie with four minutes left in an attempt to send all 11 players forward to even the score. The Great Danes held strong on the back line.
“I think sometimes you feel like there’s a force field on the goal,” said head coach Phil Sykes. “We had some good looks without results. It got a little bit scary there. We’ve been focusing on trying to be strong in front of the goal, and Molly’s position there really paid off for us. New Hampshire kind of took it to us in the regular season, so we’re looking forward to seeing them on Saturday.”
UAlbany will face New Hampshire on Saturday at 2 p.m. The game will be streamed live from Memorial Field on America East.tv.