UAlbany Women’s Soccer to Host First-Ever America East Title Game After Defeating UNH 1-0 in Semifinal Round
ALBANY, N.Y. – The 1-seed UAlbany women’s soccer team defeated 4-seed UNH 1-0 in the America East semifinal round and will, for the first time in program history, host the conference title game next Sunday.
A Kiana Rugar 34th minute goal from Mariah Williams gave UAlbany (10-7-1) the lead over UNH (7-9-3) as the Great Danes outshot their opponent 11-1 in the opening 45 minutes. The second half, Chloe Borasky saved six shots to preserve the shutout and send UAlbany to the title game.
“Advancing to the championship game always feels great,” said UAlbany head coach Caitlin Cucchiella. “Any semifinal is going to be a battle, and the game went back and forth, fortunately, we were able to get a goal early, which propelled us to have confidence into the second half.”
With the win, UAlbany will host 2-seed Hartford for the America East title game on Sunday, November 6th at 6 p.m. at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium. It is the first time that UAlbany is hosting the America East women’s soccer title game.
Rugar, for the second consecutive season, scores the game-winning goal in the America East semifinal round for UAlbany. She scored the golden goal in overtime vs. Vermont last season.
“It is awesome, we knew UNH was going to be a tough team, and now we are looking forward to the final,” said Rugar. “Mariah (Williams) sent me a great pass, and I knew I had to hit the corner for the ball to go in.”
UAlbany got off a couple wide shots in the opening minutes without a chance on goal. In the 13th minute, UNH tried to clear the ball out as UAlbany was advancing. Meagan O'Neil came forward and fired a long range shot, with Borkan making a save in the middle.
After a high Wildcat shot, UAlbany pushed back as Meghan Cavanaugh sprinted against three UNH defenders. Cavanaugh passed off to Paltsios for the shot, missing just wide right in the 24th minute.
Williams pushed on a breakaway off a stolen pass, going against three defenders. She sent a thru ball to a running Rugar, who, one-on-one with the goalkeeper, kicked the ball inside the left post to put UAlbany ahead 1-0.
Rugar kept pressuring Borkan with a kick towards the post on a corner and a header close range, with each being saved. Alexa Schneider had one last shot of the half going from left to right, missing wide. UAlbany took a 1-0 lead into halftime.
UNH got two early looks at the cage at the start of the second half, with Borasky saving the long range strikes. In minute 58, Brooke Murphy, the AE Striker of the Year, sent a line drive off a free kick towards the right post. Borasky dove and got a hand on the ball to send it out of bounds. The possession ended after Borasky saved a header from Maddie Murdick off a corner.
UAlbany fired away three times in a span of 75 seconds starting in the 66th minute, including twice by Paltsios. All three did not connect on cage.
Borasky and the defense continued to hold against the aggressive UNH attack, including a Murdick header going high above the crossbar off a corner in the 74th minute.
UAlbany found chances from long range, including Kopp and Vivian Vega each sending a shot high above the crossbar.
In the final seconds, UNH had two corner kicks towards the box. A final one with two seconds left got to a header shot. The clock expired before the ball could cross the goal line, ending the game for a 1-0 UAlbany victory.
Hartford advanced to the title game, defeating 6-seed Vermont at home 1-0.