The Manhattan College women’s soccer team began their MAAC play on Sunday. Coming off a 2-1 victory over Yale, they were looking to beat Niagara for the first time since 2010. After a hard fought game and overtime, it ended with a 1-1 tie and each team leaving with a point.
“At the start of the game,” assistant coach Sarah Brady said,” obviously we always want to win. But if we knew we would come out of this with a point against Niagara, we would be satisfied.”
Niagara has been a tough opponent for the Jaspers. Four of their last five games against each other have been Niagara victories. However, each of these has been one-goal games. It was Manhattan’s defense that stepped up and kept this game a tie.
“I think that makes or breaks a game,” junior forward Tiffanie McIntosh said. “If defense doesn’t step up, the rest of the team doesn’t step up. Collectively, as a whole, everyone has to step up their game so that each section of the field stays together.”
With a lot of their starters injured, the Jaspers went into the game with 14 healthy players. This motivated them even more to play strong defense against their first MAAC opponent.
“It was definitely important,” junior midfielder Colleen Kavanagh said. “We stuck together from the backline to the forwards and played team defense.”
Manhattan’s lone goal came from senior forward Aislinn McIlvenny on a penalty kick in the first half. McIlvenny leads the team with her seventh goal of the season. Junior goaltender Kristen Skonieczny played strongly to help the Jaspers keep the tie.
“It was really important to stay tight and compact,” senior forward Kaelyn Angelo said. “We had to be aware of our runners and make sure that we communicated as a team. We had to be on the same page. It was a good solid defensive effort, especially in overtime.”
With some good offensive chances in the game, the next step was to take advantage of them and score. Both teams held offensive chances and ended with a tie. Skonieczny had some key saves in overtime that held Niagara.
“A tie can be frustrating if you deserve to win,” Coach Brady said, ”but a tie can be borderline elation if you deserve to lose. If we look at it statistically, this team has beaten us four out of the last five times we’ve played them. So we would say it was a good point.”
“Ties are frustrating,” Angelo said, “because we all gutted it out for 110 minutes and we only get one point. “Niagara was a really good team and we kept our composure for the most part. We got the point and it’s still better than a loss.”
Looking forward, the team is excited and ready for their MAAC play to continue. Whether it is a win or a loss, it’s all about points now. Next on their schedule is a matchup against Marist.
“We’ve come in with the right attitude,” Coach Brady said. “It’s being built week by week. We’re going into the MAAC conference with confident focus. We know what we have to do, we know that we’ve done it prior to coming in, and we need to continue it.”
For the most part, the team will continue to play how they are now. Key offensive chances and strong defense have been important to them. They look to keep stay together as a team and tighten the gaps between offense and defense.
“Every game counts now,” Angelo said. “Everything is a point system. We have to keep being strong and communicating. We have to play well like we have been and carry it over to conference play.”
“If we all get up and stay back together,” Kavanagh said, “we’ll get the results we want.”