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Hartford hands women’s soccer tough defeat

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Photo by Brittany Gregory/Albany Student Press. Despite leading for most of the game, UAlbany fell to Hartford.
Photo by Brittany Gregory/Albany Student Press. Despite leading for most of the game, UAlbany fell to Hartford.

By Lamya Zikry

The UAlbany women’s soccer team led for the majority of the game vs. Hartford on Thursday night, Oct. 15 but fell 2-1 in the last stretch of the match at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium.

“We were on top of Hartford especially in the first half and probably for the first 20 in the second half but unfortunately games can be won and decided by set pieces and that’s exactly what happened tonight,” said head coach Caitlin Cucchiella.

“The first half balls were going to feet, we were finishing opportunities, we were moving as a unit, it was a really nice first half and then the second half something changed,” said UAlbany defender Celia Balf. “We still had our foot on the gas pedal but honestly set pieces in soccer can really change the game and if you tune out for one second they can capitalize.”

UAlbany (6-8-1, 1-3-1 AE) had possession for the first half but fell due to two corner kicks from Hartford (9-2-4, 3-0-3 AE) in the second half. UAlbany had 18 shots, while Hartford only had 10 and UAlbany had 10 corner kicks to Hartford’s five.

UAlbany’s first attempt at goal was in the 15th minute when Kiana Rugar passed the ball to Vivian Vega who shot at goal but keeper, Jessica Jurg, caught the ball at the post.

In the 23rd minute, with an assist from Krista Fitzpatrick, Rugar took a pass and shot low but Jurg blocked the ball making it go out of bounds.

With 16 minutes left in the first half, Hartford had a corner kick but UAlbany blocked the attempt.

A foul gave Fitzpatrick a free kick in the 39th minute, she shot the ball towards the middle of the field where Leanne Miller tipped the ball into the left post giving UAlbany a 1-0 lead going into halftime. The goal was Miller’s second of the season.

“We knew that we were going to be able to get in on Hartford if we attacked down the flank and we got crosses into the box and that’s exactly what we did. We scored off a set piece and they scored off of two,” said Cucchiella. “So although we outshot them tonight, still, set pieces were what determined the game.”

UAlbany continued their possession in the opening of the second half. At the 58th UAlbany had an attempt at a corner kick but got no result. Soon after, Vega shot at the goal but her attempt was blocked.

In the 76th minute, Tori Tripp got out of the back row for a shot and Olivieri made a diving save.  This gave Hartford a corner kick, UAlbany headed Julia Carr’s first corner out of bounds.  The second corner came near the right post. Caitlin Smallfield tipped the ball just past the goal line making the score 1-1.

In the 80th minute, Hayley Nolan missed high on a set piece and three minutes later, Carr curled the ball past the post again. Nolan got the deflected ball and shot a ground ball into the post giving Hartford the 2-1 lead.

In the final minute, UAlbany had a final attempt at goal with a corner. The corner sailed to the middle of the box, but Hartford cleared it and the clock sounded leaving the final score at 2-1.

“This is a feeling we don’t want to have moving forward. It’s better now than later but it’s still very unfortunate,” said Balf.

“I think it was a really good effort by our team. They had a lot of desire and a lot of heart, but unfortunately it didn’t go our way,” said Cucchiella.

UAlbany will play their next home game on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. at Casey Stadium against UMass Lowell.

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