Championship Sunday proves to be successful for two local colleges

ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) – UAlbany Women’s Field Hockey: No. 8 University at Albany field hockey (19-2) captured its second consecutive and fifth overall America East title on Sunday afternoon in a 2-0 victory over Maine (19-4). The Great Danes out-scored their opponents 14-1 in the America East tournament to earn the league’s automatic NCAA bid.

 “To get back to the championship with the new conference alignment and the depth of our competition was awesome,” said head coach Phil Sykes. “We definitely wanted to take it one day at a time, because anything can happen with eight teams in a tournament. This is a great Maine team we played; I’m proud of the way we battled and we’re looking forward to the NCAA Tournament.”

 With nerves and wind a factor early in the game, Liza Morgan registered the only shot on goal in the first 10 minutes. Paula Heuser adjusted quickly to being heavily marked in the middle of the field, earning herself a penalty stroke in the 10th minute. The defending NFHCA National Player of the Year buried the stroke for a 1-0 UAlbany lead.

 Momentum in hand, Bottino, Heuser and Morgan continued to press forward. But the Black Bears battled back to earn two penalty corners. The first was blocked at the defensive line, and Maxi Primus thwarted the second with a glove save.

 Just as Maine began to pick up the pace up front, UAlbany responded with a second goal. Bottino worked her way to the right end line, firing up a pass towards the cage. Fellow sophomore Kelsey Briddell stood ready at the far post, and she beat the Maine goalkeeper to make it 2-0 UAlbany with less than five minutes to go in the first half.

 The Danes earned all three of their second-half penalty corners in the first 20 minutes of the period. Frederike Helmke had a shot saved in the 46th minute, and the Purple & Gold continued searching for an extra insurance goal.

 Maine briefly found a loophole to earn a penalty corner with seven minutes to go. A save by Primus and a clear off the stick of Jaclyn Hibbs kept the Black Bears at bay. After Josette Babineau pulled her goalkeeper with less than four minutes left, UAlbany retained possession for the win.

 The Purple & Gold sealed the America East automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, set to begin on Nov. 11 with Play-In games. The No. 8 Danes took their fifth overall, second consecutive America East title and third in the last four seasons. Field hockey’s fifth title marks the 77th America East and 84th overall conference championship for UAlbany in the Division I era.

 Anna Bottino got the Most Outstanding Performer nod with 10 points in the tournament. She joined teammates Paula Heuser, Jaclyn Hibbs and Fiori Van Rijswijk on the All-Tournament team. Taylor Schwoyer was named the Elite 18 Award winner for the second consecutive season.

 Phil Sykes & co., will learn their fate in the NCAA Tournament tonight at 10:00pm. The NCAA selection show will be broadcast on NCAA.com.

 AMERICA EAST CHAMPIONSHIP ACCOLADES:

Most Outstanding Performer:

Anna Bottino, So., M

 All-Championship Team:

Anna Bottino, So., M

Paula Heuser, Jr., M

Jaclyn Hibbs, Jr., D

Fiori Van Rijswijk, Sr., D

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Women’s Soccer Wins MAAC Championship- Siena is heading to the NCAA Women’s College Cup for the second time in program history. The Saints began the MAAC Tournament as the number six seed, but finished it as the clear champion after a 5-2 thrashing of Manhattan on Championship Sunday.

Siena has won six straight games entering the NCAA’s, including victories over the top three finishers in the MAAC during their decisive Championship run. The five goals the Saints scored Sunday were the most in a MAAC Championship match ever.

Siena will find out its next destination Monday at 4:30 p.m. when the NCAA Tournament field is revealed on NCAA.com.

“What a run,” Siena coach Steve Karbowski said. “We had our backs against the wall for the last month and we just didn’t want to lose. We had great leadership, tremendous focus. I’m really proud of our group.”

Sunday’s championship felt more like a coronation after Siena struck three times in the first 21 minutes against one of the stingiest defenses in America.

Tournament MVP Allison Clark started the commotion with a header 42 seconds into the game following a well-played corner. Kristen Connors finished the second tally at the seven minute mark, and Madison Vasquez beat MAAC Goalkeeper of the Year Kristen Skonieczny with a brilliant shot to the upper right corner in the 21st minute.

“I thought we were a little off in warm-ups to be honest,” Karbowski said. “But we work on corners all the time, and getting that first one through I think really loosened us up.”

The sixth-seeded Saints needed a 2-0 victory at Quinnipiac on the final day of the regular-season to even qualify for the Tournament, their third straight win to end the regular-season. Their title run began with a 1-0 victory at rival Marist last Sunday, and became a reality after an impressive 2-1 victory over top-seed and Tournament host Monmouth Friday night.

Second-seeded Manhattan had lost just once in its last 11 matches against conference competition, including a 1-0 victory over Siena in Riverdale September 26. But the Jaspers were no match for the Saints on this day.

Siena led 3-1 at the half, and put the game away with the first two strikes after intermission. Kensey Waterman’s one-timer off a tight-angle feed from Clark in the 49th minute pushed the lead back to three goals, and Connors deflected in Tara Sobierajski’s perfectly placed corner in the 74th minute for the dagger.

Emily Center finished the scoring with Manhattan’s second goal in the 77th minute, but Siena was well on its way to victory by that point.

Connors (who scored her first two goals of the season Sunday), Vazquez and Kirby O’Keefe joined Clark on the All-Tournament Team.

Siena’s only other MAAC Championship and NCAA appearance came in 2010 after a 1-0 overtime victory over Canisius.

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WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – The UAlbany women’s soccer team earned its first-ever league title in dramatic fashion on Sunday afternoon, rallying with two goals in the final nine minutes to notch the 2-1 victory at Hartford to win the 2015 America East Championship.

UAlbany (11-8-1), which has earned its winningest season in its Division I history and tying the most-ever in 1981 with 11 victories, has earned a berth into the 2015 NCAA Tournament and will find out its first opponent during the selection show on Monday, November 9th at 4:30 p.m. on NCAA.com.

The Great Danes were down 1-0 with nine minutes remaining against Hartford (11-4-4) at Al-Marzook Field at Alumni Stadium. Allison Carhart netted a goal in the 82nd minute off a Caitlyn Paltsios free kick, and then Kelly Kempf scored the eventual game-winner off a scrum from long-range in the 88th minute.  Carhart and Kempf, each seniors, came off the bench during the game and earned their goals.

“Winning the America East title feels incredible, and it was a collective effort,” said UAlbany head coach Caitlin Cucchiella, who takes the Great Danes to a league title in her third season at the helm. “The team decided, no matter what the situation, that they would stay focused and get the win.”

Kempf, the tournament MVP, Paltsios, Caroline Kopp and Savanah Courtney were named to the 2015 America East All-Tournament Team.

“I know a ball went up into the air, and I just took my chance and went for it,” said Kempf of her game-winning goal. “We knew we had to stay positive to come back, and it is the best feeling in the world to win.”

“It feels absolutely amazing, and it is one of the happiest moments of my life,” said Carhart. “We have worked so hard this year and put a lot past us, and it feels great.”

UAlbany will enter the 2015 NCAA Tournament having won its last five games, including two comeback wins in the America East Tournament.

In the game, UAlbany outshot Hartford 13-6, including 10-1 in the second half. Alana Olivieri earned her fifth straight victory in goal, playing all 90 minutes.

Aaliyah Ingram scored Hartford’s goal in the 6th minute off an arc shot off a feed from Kylie Hoang.  Jessica Jung got the loss in goal, saving four shots in 90 minutes.

In the first half, UAlbany primarily played with possession while Hartford went for quick strike counter attacks.

UAlbany got the first look on a slow counter as Shelby Belak got a pass to Vivian Vega just outside the goal box in the fourth minute.  Vega tried a quick turnaround shot, missing wide of the post.

In the sixth minute, Ingram got the feed outside the box near the right corner from Hoang.  Ingram kicked a high-arching shot over the jumping Olivieri inside the right post to make it 1-0 Hartford.

UAlbany picked up the pace as the minutes went on, putting some pressure on the Hartford back line. Mariah Williams and Krista Fitzpatrick each tried to connect on crosses, but the Great Danes could not get shots on either.

Paltsios took a corner kick in the 21st minute and placed the feed just outside the goal box.  Williams put a header on the ball, just missing above the crossbar.  Williams almost had another chance on a later feed from Belak, but the ball was picked up by Hartford before a shot came off.

Hartford had another counter attack in the 35th minute as a blocked shot eventually turned into a corner.  After UAlbany defended against the corner, Elise Galipo tried a ground ball shot from outside the box, missing left.  The two teams went into halftime with Hartford leading 1-0.

Early in the second half, UAlbany pressed and got four corner kicks in less than eight minutes.  On the fourth, Hartford cleared outside the penalty box.  Kopp blasted the ball back in towards the left post, missing just left in the 54th minute.

On a fifth attempt, Fitzpatrick’s feed bounced in the box to Paltsios.  Paltsios kicked off the second touch as Jurg made the stop.

UAlbany kept getting possession but was unable to penetrate the Hartford back line on crosses. Kiana Rugar got a look in the 70th minute and had a long curling shot towards the right corner of the goal, missing high.  Minutes later, Williams shot a line drive to the left post with a falling Jurg saving the ball.

The chances kept coming for UAlbany as on a free kick, Kopp got the feed alone in the penalty box.  She got tangled with a defender and lost the ball as the chance ended.

Hartford got a look the other way as the Hawks went for a quick strike.  Sidney Spremullo fired hard at the net from long-range, sailing the ball high.

In the 82nd minute, Paltsios sent a free kick into the box.  The ball got loose as the keeper went forward.  Carhart got a tap on the ball, turned around and put it into the net for the score, tying the game at 1-1.

The home team looked to attack in the coming minutes.  UAlbany’s defense held and did not allow a shot in that time period.

Back the other way, UAlbany went quickly to the offensive end.  As the ball approached, the goalie moved up as the ball came out to a scrum.  As a Hartford defender tried to clear out the ball, Kempf emerged and kicked towards the goal with her left foot, scoring on the open net with 2:17 left to give UAlbany the lead 2-1.

Hartford had a final gasp with a corner kick in the 89th minute.  Julia Carr’s curl went out-of-bounds on the near post to end the threat.  UAlbany took home the 2-1 comeback victory over Hartford.

 

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