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The University at Albany Women’s soccer team is moving on in their quest to repeat as America East Conference Champions. The #1 seed Great Danes defeated the #4 seed University of New Hampshire Wildcats 1-0 in the Semifinals Sunday night at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium.

UAlbany scored the lone goal of the game during the 33rd minute of play, as Sophomore Maria Williams had a breakway, passed it to Redshirt Junior Kiana Rugar who shot and scored on the inside left post.

When asked about her reaction to scoring the lone goal, Rugar said “At that point, it was all instinct. It was a perfect pass from Mariah. I knew it was one on one with the keeper and I knew if I hit the corner it would’ve went in.” The goal came after Williams subbed into the game at the 28th minutes for Vivian Vega, a move that paid off for UAlbany Coach Caitlin Cucchiella.

When describing what turned out to be a crucial substitution, Coach Cucchiella commented: “Mariah played great against UNH the first time we played them, and we knew that she was going to be a spark for us.” When UAlbany last played UNH, Williams was also a sub before scoring the team’s first goal in what ended as a 2-1 victory for the Danes.

Cucchiella added about Williams “She created an opportunity, and obviously it was great seeing her and Kiana connecting with Kiana finishing. It was a brilliant goal.” The goal was Rugar’s fifth of the yearadding to a year in which she was one of six Danes named to the America East All-Conference Team.

The Danes had a dominating first half, not just scoring the only goal of the game but leading in shots with 11 while the Wildcats were virtually nonexistent with just one. In the second half, the Wildcats were the much more aggressive team. They had twelve shots in the half, six of which were on net and stopped by goalkeeper Chloe Borasky. This included a spectacular save by Borasky on a UNH free kick, one that coach Cucchiella described as “one of the best saves I’ve ever seen her have.” Borasky added about her performance “We did a really good job getting on top early and holding on to secure the win.” The win improves Borasky’s record on the year to 8-4-1, while UNH goalkeeper Mimi Borkan took the loss and ends the year with at 7-8-3.

A last second blitz by UNH led to a bit of controversy. The Wildcats were on the offensive as the ball went in the net just after the clock ran out. Initially the UNH team thought they had scored before the referee called the goal off, ending the UNH season as they protested while the Danes celebrated moving on.

Cucchiella said about the closing moments “Our players on the field said that they heard the whistle, and then they also heard the horn. So for us, we weren’t worried at all.” Borasky also said, “Thankfully, it was after the time was up.”

The Great Danes continued where they left off in the regular season, continuing their winning streak at five straight wins, as well as going 7-0-1 in the team’s last eight games. They look to continue the winning trend, and win a second America East title, as they take on #2 see Hartford this Sunday at 6 p.m.  at Bob Ford Field at Tom and Mary Casey Stadium.

Justin Berlund is a sports writer for the Albany Student Press.

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