For the first time in six years, the Manhattan College women’s soccer team earned a victory over Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) opponent Marist. It proved to be a strong game offensively for the Jaspers, with 17 shots total. Eleven of them were from senior Aislinn McIlvenny and junior Sam Washuk combined.
With this win, Manhattan improves to 6-3-1. Two weeks into conference play, this is their first MAAC win of the season after a tie against Niagara. “It’s always a good feeling,” junior Kristen Skoniecnzy said, “especially playing a team that you haven’t beat in six seasons. It shows the progress we have made over the years.”
It was the Red Foxes who scored first in the game. However, the Jaspers were able to answer back soon after. Washuk got her second goal of the season on a deflection from McIlvenny.
“We didn’t think that we couldn’t come back from it,” Skoniecnzy. “We kept positive and kept pushing. We knew it would come if we kept working. Coming back from being down 1-0 to win the game shows that we all believed in that.”
“Our team is very resilient,” junior Emily Ude said. “We’ve been going up against challenges this season since day one. Even after we are down one goal, there’s a lot in us to come back and score.”
With five minutes to go in the first half, senior Daniella Morgante passed the ball to McIlvenny who blasted it into the far corner of the goal and gave Manhattan the lead. The difference-maker of the game was McIlvenny’s eighth goal of the season.
Going into the second half, Manhattan was left with the task of maintaining their lead. They had great defensive pressure and were able to hold Marist from tying the game. “It’s always nerve-wracking,” Skoniecnzy said, “but everyone kept a good mindset and worked as a team.”
“Playing with the lead is definitely hard,” senior Shannon Garrity said, “but I think that we’re getting better at it. It’s hard to relax when you’re winning but I think we do a good job of it.”
“A lot of the way we play comes from our defensive shape,” Ude said. “Now that we are pretty confident in defense, we are able to attack. Once we are able to get the lead, we can keep the ball under control.”
Their strong defensive play led to some key offensive chances in attempts to make it a two-goal lead. However, Marist goalkeeper Andrea Wicks kept control and tallied 10 saves in the game. Skoniecnzy finished with four saves.
Not letting Marist’s offensive pressure get to them, the Jaspers were able to maintain control of the game. “We can’t let their energy get to us and we just have to play our game,” Garrity said.
A team already affected by injuries, the Jaspers suffered another loss when senior Kaelyn Angelo was taken down in the second. They looked on the positive side and had more motivation to win for Kaelyn.
“Kaelyn is a very tough player,” Ude said. “I’m sure we’ll see her back on the field. Seeing any of our teammates go down and get hurt like that actually pushes us a little more and motivates us to win.”
“It’s hard,” Garrity said. “You just have to put it aside and keep playing hard, especially for the player that got hurt.”
This past week, Skoniecnzy was recognized for her play and was honored with two awards. First, she was named MAAC Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season. Later in the week, she was also named Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Defensive Player. She was the first Manhattan player to get this honor since soccer player Alicia DeFino in 2007. These awards came after Manhattan’s 1-1 tie against Niagara where Skoniecnzy had eight saves.
“It was awesome,” Skoniecnzy said. “I’ve never gotten something like this before. It’s nice to be recognized. I owe it all to my defense and the team, I couldn’t have done it without them.”