STORRS, Conn. – The UAlbany women’s soccer team was the first squad to score two goals against #13 UConn since September 29th, but had its season come to an end in the NCAA First Round after a 4-2 defeat to the Huskies.
Mariah Williams scored both goals for UAlbany (11-8-1) as the Great Danes only trailed by one to UConn (19-1-2) at halftime. UConn scored twice to begin the second half as Williams added her second goal late in the final period.
UAlbany finishes its year at 11-8-1 overall, the top winning percentage (.575) in a season in the program’s Division I history. The Great Danes earned their second consecutive America East Tournament title and a program record six conference victories.
“We are very proud, the fact that we scored two goals in the NCAA First Round on a top-15 opponent is pretty incredible,” said UAlbany head coach Caitlin Cucchiella. “It talks about how far we’ve come in the last couple of years and shows we can compete with top programs.”
“I think we went out there and worked hard, doing all we could against a team that is good,” said Williams. “It has been an amazing season, from the beginning of the season that we had to where we came.”
UAlbany falls by two in the NCAA First Round after a 5-0 defeat in last season’s NCAA First Round defeat at Penn State.
In addition, UAlbany was the first America East women’s soccer team to score at least one goal in an NCAA Tournament game since 2011.
Kiana Rugar assisted Williams’s first goal in the closing minutes of the first. The assist was the 16th of her career, the top mark in UAlbany women’s soccer history.
Chloe Borasky got the defeat in goal for UAlbany with two saves. Rugar and Alexa Schneider each had two shots.
In succession, Alexa Casimiro, Stephanie Ribeiro, Rachel Hill and Maddie Damm scored goals for UConn. Emily Armstrong picked up the victory in goal with two saves.
The ball was sent into the box and knocked down in the middle nine yards away. Casimiro emerged and grounded a shot for a goal into the center of the cage, putting UConn up 1-0.
In the ninth minute, UConn got a cleared corner back into the box. Ribeiro, on the first touch, kicked from 10 yards out into the left post and scored just inside the woodwork, making it 2-0 Huskies.
UAlbany picked up their first corner kick in minute 16, with Caitlyn Paltsios sending a ball towards the left post. Schneider headed the ball left, missing high.
UConn kept firing away from long range against Borasky, missing high multiple times. Kristen Vinciguerra missed high off a corner kick from Ribeiro in the 33rd minute.
Into the 43rd minute, Rugar came down the right side past two defenders. She found an emerging Williams, who shot from 12 yards out and scored inside the left post past a diving Armstrong to bring UAlbany within a goal at 2-1, the eventual halftime score.
Caroline Kopp took aim in the opening minute of the second half, trying for the left post, with Armstrong making the save.
Five minutes into the second half, Hill got a bouncing ball into the box. She turned and shot, scoring just left of a diving Borasky to make it 3-1 UConn.
Williams sent a ball to Rugar in the corner of the box. Rugar struck hard, seeing her drive blocked by a UConn defender and sent to the goalie in the 54th minute.
Minute 68 saw Maddie Damm get a through ball and went one-on-one against Borasky. Borasky dove towards the ball and blocked Damm’s shot away in the 18-yard box to stop the attempt.
Minutes later, Ribeiro pulled off Borasky and crossed to Damm close to the goal. Damm shot, being denied by Savanah Courtney with an outstretched leg near the post. Second attempt by Ribeiro on a header missed right.
In minute 80, Damm took the ball into the box. She turned and curled the ball into the left post past a diving Borasky to give UConn a 4-1 lead.
In the waning minutes of the game, Williams tried to cross the ball towards the right post. The ball arced inside the right post for her second goal, making it 4-2, the eventual final score.
UConn will advance to face Auburn in the NCAA Second Round next Friday.