Aly Leahy’s ’18 late penalty-kick goal gave the women’s soccer team a thrilling 3-2 victory over Vassar last Saturday, sending the Dutchwomen to the Liberty League Tournament for the first time since 2012.
Union managed to edge out St. Lawrence for the fourth and final spot in the conference tournament by a single point.
St. Lawrence came into the weekend ahead of Union in the standings, but the Saints’ draw with Clarkson opened the door for the Dutchwomen to sneak in.
Needing a win, the Dutchwomen faced a tough test in Vassar, which had already clinched a playoff spot and will be the No. 2 seed in this week’s tournament.
The Brewers seemed intent on ruining Union’s playoff hopes, as Audrey Pillsbury gave them an early 1-0 lead 13:08 minutes into the game. Union evened the score a little under 12 minutes later thanks to a goal by leading scorer Katie Monahan ’18, her eighth of the season. Sydney Keane ’18 had the assist, the first of two on the day for the midfielder.
With the score deadlocked early in the second half, Vassar restored its one goal advantage on a penalty kick. The Dutchwomen, however, didn’t trail for long.
Michelle Staples ’17, who along with Leahy, Keriann Mackey ’17 and Victoria Marotta ’17 were celebrated before the game as part of Senior Day, scored 1:53 later to even it up to 2-2.
Overtime it looked likely, until a handball by Vassar in their own box sent Leahy to the spot with the chance to put Union ahead with less than six minutes left. Leahy did just that, giving the Dutchwomen the lead for good, and securing their playoff spot in dramatic fashion.
Union’s playoff chances were in serious jeopardy when back to back losses in Liberty League play ended their ten game unbeaten run.
The run officially came to an end in a close 2-0 defeat at RPI on October 18, when the Engineers scored two goals in a span of 1:58 late in the second half. Four days later, undefeated William Smith handed Union its second straight loss, 4-0.
The Dutchwomen rebounded strongly, overwhelming Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences 8-2 on October 26. Nicole Sturno ’19 led the attack early on with two goals in the first 28:10 of the game.
Staples got the assist, her first of the season, on Sturno’s opening goal, while Mackey assisted Sturno’s second. The lead grew shortly thereafter thanks to Linsey Giles ’20, who scored two goals of her own in the first half.
Union continued to cruise after halftime, as Monahan ’18 also scored two goals, making it 5-0, and then 6-2 after the visitors got on the board twice.
Julia Kipp ’18 and Kylie Stevens ’20 punctuated the victory with late goals, each scoring their first of the season. As the score line suggests, the Dutchwomen were in complete control, outshooting their opponents 41-11, and sending 23 shots on goal.
The Dutchwomen will compete in a Liberty League semifinal match on Tuesday, November 1 against William Smith in Geneva, NY, with a spot in the championship on the line. William Smith finished the year 16-0, 8-0 in league play.