Women's Soccer Falls in Semifinal vs. Hartford 3-2
Score: #3 Hartford 3, #2 UAlbany 2
Location: Tom & Mary Casey Stadium in Albany, N.Y.
Records: UAlbany (9-6-3, 6-1-1 AE); Hartford (10-6-2, 5-2-1 AE)
Short story: After clawing back from 2-0 down, UAlbany women’s soccer sees its season come to an end in the America East semifinals against three-seed Hartford.
- Leah Pais scored her fifth goal of the season
- Meghan Cavanaugh scored her fourth goal of the season
- Sophia Chen made six saves
- Hartford outshot UAlbany 7-4 in the first half
- Hartford controlled 53% of possession in the first half
- UAlbany outshot Hartford 10-7 in the second half
Coach Bochette: "Hartford came out really strong. They were clearly ready to go from the gun. They had just come off a good performance a few days ago and they were primed and ready to go tonight. We took a few minutes to get rolling. Part of it was our start but part of it also was the good start by Hartford. They’re very well-coached, they had a good plan coming in, and they executed from minute one. Once we settled into the game and understood what we could to do have success, we started playing in a way that favors what we do. I was very happy with our response when it came through, but when you give a team like Hartford a little bit of leeway, they’re going to punish you. After we scored the equalizer, the game could have gone either way. We’re crushed and we’re disappointed to have lost. This senior class has done a lot for us and we wanted to send them off with another appearance in the final, at minimum, but the group’s response in the second half was really impressive. So I’m really gutted for the seniors, that they couldn’t go farther, but really encouraged by the play of the younger players as well.”
The University at Albany women’s soccer team, co-regular season champions, hosted three-seed Hartford on Thursday in the America East semifinal round. Hartford had just come off a victory over six-seed UMass Lowell in the quarterfinal round, 1-0 in double-overtime, while UAlbany enjoyed a first-round bye after clinching the tournament’s second overall seed. Thursday’s semifinal featured both the America East Midfielder of the Year in Hartford’s Sierra Stone and Rookie of the Year in UAlbany’s Leah Pais.
Additionally, Thursday’s game was a rematch of the 2018 semifinal hosted by Hartford, where UAlbany upset the higher-seeded Hawks 1-0 after falling in their regular-season meeting at Hartford.
Thursday night, Hartford struck first, with Victoria Jedrychowski collecting a loose ball at the top of the box and striking a one-touch shot just over the head of UAlbany goalkeeper Sophia Chen in the 11th minute. The Hawks scored again just a few minutes later, in the 15th, when Stone ripped a shot off a setup from Skylar Vitiello.
Hartford pressed their advantage early in the first half from the opening kickoff, leaving UAlbany on its heels. The Great Danes found themselves in an early shots deficit, seeing the Hawks take five shots before managing their second. Pais put UAlbany on the board in the 31st minute following a setup from Hailey Summers to cut the Hawks’ lead in half. UAlbany settled in following the goal, narrowing their shots disadvantage to 7-4 by halftime.
Where Hartford controlled pace in the first half, UAlbany took command of the game immediately after halftime. The Great Danes drew a foul early in the second half. Kendra Harbinger continued her hot streak from set pieces, finding Meghan Cavanaugh in the middle of the Hartford box for a header to tie the game at two in the 48th minute.
The 70th minute saw Hartford’s Bridgette Alexander capitalize on a loose ball in the UAlbany box to slip her shot low near side to put the Hawks back on top, 3-2.
Harbinger took a corner kick in the 74th minute. She found Summers’ head, whose redirect was blocked by Hartford’s near-post defender. The ball bounced back to Jada Colbert, whose play in to Pais was deflected to Gina Bracamonte. Bracamonte’s initial attempt was blocked towards Sophia Eifler, whose shot from outside the top of the box sailed wide right to end the scrambling play.
Another set piece from Harbinger ultimately resulted in a wide-open header for Pais, whose attempt fell short at the hands of Perez in the middle of the goal. UAlbany continued to create chances, but Hartford’s defense met every challenge, and ultimately secured a 3-2 victory to eliminate the Great Danes from the postseason.
The two teams ended the game having each taken 14 shots. UAlbany held a slight, 5-3 edge in corner kicks. Five of UAlbany’s shots were on target, compared to nine of Hartford’s on the evening.
Thursday was only the fourth game all season Hartford had allowed more than one goal, and their first in eight games since allowing two to UAlbany on September 22.
Up next: UAlbany’s season is over. Hartford will visit top-seed Stony Brook in the America East title game on Sunday, November 10.