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Four memorable goals in women’s soccer shutout

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Photo by Brittany Gregory/Albany Student Press. Alexa Schneider scored in UAlbany's win over UMass Lowell.
Photo by Brittany Gregory/Albany Student Press. Alexa Schneider scored in UAlbany’s win over UMass Lowell.

By Lauren Navratil

Soccer players usually score goals after some clear-cut passing near the 18-yard line of their opponent, leaving a sliver of opportunity for a player to take the shot and put the ball in the net. The goals scored by University at Albany women’s soccer (8-8-1, 3-3-1 America East) Thursday night at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium did not fall into that consensus, and the Great Danes finished out with a 4-0 win against the University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks (5-12-0, 2-5-0 AE).

“I think that proving to ourselves that we can get on the board and score lots of goals was exactly what we needed to do tonight. We were able to still keep our foot on the gas even though we were up a couple goals, and we never let off,” said Head Coach Caitlin Cucchiella.

The first half of the game consisted mostly of mixed possession by both teams and the ball lingering in the middle of the field, granting only a few quick bursts of excitement. As the end of the half approached, it was difficult to determine how the game might turn out in the end. However, with only two minutes left, the momentum shifted.

Suddenly, there was a presence of life in the game, and numbers on the scoreboard. Albany Senior Allison Carhart changed the game with a break-away run and a solid shot past the only thing standing in her way, the River Hawks goal keeper. Senior Krista Fitzpatrick came through with the assist for Carhart, which happened to be her 13th career assist, making her the new all-time assists leader for UAlbany.

Carhart’s goal put a whole new spin on the game under the lights. The UAlbany women forcefully took the field with an essence of fire in the second half, dominating the ball and pressuring River Hawk defenders with multiple shots on net. With 20 minutes left, UMass Lowell had barely entered dangerous Great Dane terratory, and it felt to normal to think that UAlbany would probably walk away from this game with a generically-typical 1-0 win. But this was not any other normal soccer game.

A breakaway isn’t the most common way to score in soccer, but it’s also not the most rare. With 17 minutes left, the River Hawk goal keeper wound up out of the net and pushed heavily forward. In the midst of both team’s players, she tried to clear the ball, though it almost instantaneously deflected off a River Hawk, and the ball rolled right to the feet of junior Great Dane Bianca Webb. As the keeper ran quickly back to the guard her territory, Webb noticed the window of opportunity, resembling a completely open net, so she forcefully kicked the ball in that direction from about 30 yards out, and it rolled slowly over the line.

“I just saw that the goalie was on the complete other side of the field, so I took a shot. It was my first goal of the season, so it really meant a lot,” said Webb.

At this point in the game, most people thought they knew for certain the outcome of this game, but it still wasn’t over. With 11 minutes left in the game, the ball met the back of the River Hawks net again. Freshman Caroline Kopp sent a corner kick to the far post where junior Alexa Schneider headed it mid-air right into the top corner. Three goals for the team and ten minutes left had the Great Danes feeling confident and the fans feeling unexpectedly thrilled.

But the fun wasn’t over yet. What more could this memorable game produce with less than a minute left? After another failed clear by the River Hawks goalkeeper, this time within the six-yard line, the ball deflected off freshman Mariah Williams who then beat out the goalie and put the ball in the net one last time for the Great Danes, sealing the deal on 4-0 win at the sound of the buzzer.

UAlbany goalkeeper Alana Olivieri recorded her second straight shutout, making four saves in net.

“Today was a great win, and we needed one because we’re at the end of our season and really need the points to get into the tournament. To come out and win 4-0 is a great feeling because it gives us so much confidence going forward,” said Webb.

This impeccable win left UAlbany feeling more energized and self-assured than ever. They will continue learning what their opponent does and exposing those weaknesses, according to Cucchiella, as they take on Maine for their Senior Day this Sunday at 2 p.m. at Casey Stadium

“This is a great time for us to be getting better as we go into playoffs. At this point in the season, the girls know what they have to do. But really, it’s about them playing together and enjoying it. They’re doing that right now, and I think as long as they continue to do that, we’re going to do really well,”  said Cucchiella.

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