Danes Quest for Title Continues
For the second time in four days, the University at Albany women’s soccer team won an America East playoff game ending 1-0.
And for the second time in four days, the Great Danes all-time leading goal scorer Mariah Williams scored the game-winning goal to seal the win for No. 3 seed UAlbany.
After 78 minutes of scoreless soccer, freshman Jasmine Colbert ripped a shot that was saved by Hartford goalkeeper Maia Perez.
The ball deflected right to Williams who tapped it into the empty net for her 17th goal of the season.
She came into the match tied for fourth in the entire country in goals scored this season. It was the easiest one the senior from Utica, NY had buried all season, but was also clearly the most important.
With the win, the Danes will now the host the America East championship game at Casey Stadium on Sunday Nov. 4th for a chance to hoist up their third conference title in four years.
UAlbany will take on No. 4 seed UMass Lowell, who made it to the championship game after wins over No. 5 seed Vermont and No. 1 seed Stony Brook.
“We’re ecstatic to get a hard-fought and gritty 1-0 win today against a top conference rival,” head coach Nick Bochette said. “Hartford has set the standard in our conference for most of the season, and we have a lot of respect for their team and coaches.
Goalkeeper Andre Lightner extended her shutout streak to five matches with the Hartford win. In their last five games, the Danes are outscoring opponents 10-0 in that span.
Lightner was UAlbany’s goalie last season making 15 starts including in the 2017 quarterfinals when UAlbany lost 2-1 to UVM, who made it all the way to the title game before falling to Stony Brook.
In the 90th minute of that match, Vermont’s Brooke Jenkins ripped a shot from 30 yards out which deflected off of UAlbany defender Meghan Malone and rolled past Lightner into the back of the net.
Senior defender Caroline Kopp, who this week won her second of back-to-back America East Defender of the Year awards, led the Danes backline to another brilliant performance.
Going up against the Hawks who were the top scoring and assist team in the conference during the regular season, Hartford only managed to get four shots on goal all afternoon and couldn’t find the back of the net.
Their best opportunity came in the 56th minute when Hartford had multiple shots inside the Albany box, ending with a hard shot over the net by freshman defender Magalie Kayrouz.
It was just the second time all season the Hawks failed to score a goal in a match and the first against a conference opponent. In a 2-0 loss to Providence on August 23, Hartford was also shutout.
Bochette spoke before the quarterfinals about being so excited for the playoffs to finally start.
This is exactly what his team had worked so hard for all season long, beginning all the way back with summer practice at the end of July. They’ll have a chance to finish the job next Sunday.
The 13 wins by the Great Danes in 2018 are the most in a single-season in program history.
But without win No. 14 next weekend, the Danes have no interest in celebrating. Just yet.
“If we continue to take this kind of pride in our defending and continue to be hungry and create chances, I love our chances moving forward,” Bochette said.