Women’s Soccer Preps for Another Strong Season

It’s the end of April and while some people at Manhattan College are mainly focused on softball or lacrosse, Manhattan’s women’s soccer team is focused on its upcoming fall season.

After its 2015 campaign, which resulted in multiple broken records, the team wants to go even further in 2016.

“Win the MAACs,” both Nicole Aylmer and Jenny Bitzer answered at the same time when asked about their overall goal for the upcoming season.

Last fall, the Jaspers made it to the MAAC Championship for the first time in school history. They had a season of broken records and high-ranked players, both in the league and nationally. They notched 11 victories and a school record 21 points in conference play.

After earning the second seed and a first-round bye, Manhattan played fourth-seeded Rider in the MAAC Semifinals. A 3-1 victory brought the Jaspers to their first-ever MAAC Championship. However, they fell 5-2 to sixth-seeded Siena in the final game.

Despite the loss, it was a season for the record books. Head coach Brendan Lawler was voted the Lids Team Sports MAAC Coach of the Year. Kristen Skonieczny was named Goalkeeper of the Year. Bitzer earned Defensive Player of the Year. Erica Modena and Nicole Copping earned spots on the All-MAAC First Team and Copping also got All-Rookie honors.

With all of that success, the team is looking at last season to push even further this coming season. Getting that close and just missing the title is the team’s drive now and will be throughout the season to get back to the championships.

“I think it’s definitely a big motivator knowing we made it that far we can make it there again,” Aylmer said. “We just need to stay focused and not take anything lightly.”

The team had about two weeks of rest after its season ended before it picked it back up with light training and workouts. After winter break, full workouts started five days a week through April.

“We do a lot of lower body workouts,” Aylmer said, “with soccer you need that lower body strength. We do core stability and then once we’re outside we do cardio and body weight exercises.”

One thing that will benefit the team next season is the addition of seven incoming freshmen. The Jaspers are losing six core seniors in Skonieczny, Emily Ude, Tiffanie McIntosh, Colleen Kavanagh, Taylor Salkowsky and Sam Washuk. But Brendan Lawler believes the incoming freshmen will bring the same quality and depth that the seniors did.

“We are extremely excited about next season,” Lawler said to GoJaspers.com. “Coming off one of the best years in program history where we relied a great deal on our seniors, we knew we needed a class that would add the same quality and depth right away that they brought us.”

The incoming freshmen include three defenders, two forwards and two goalkeepers, which Bitzer said is a luxury for the Jaspers to now have two more backup goalies instead of just one.

“Where our past classes helped us make the climb toward the top of the conference,” Lawler said, “we will now be relying on this group and all of our returners to help us stay there and go one step further.”

Women’s Soccer Falls 5-2 to Siena in MAAC Championship

Manhattan made it to the MAAC Championship for the first time in school history. They had a season of broken records and high-ranked players, both in the league and nationally. In a game to represent the league in the NCAA tournament, however, it was the underdog that came out on top.

After earning the second seed and a first-round bye, Manhattan played fourth-seeded Rider on Friday night in the MAAC Semifinals. Lizzy Carlson notched two goals for the Jaspers and Modena sealed the win with a goal to make it a 3-1 final. Skonieczny had a career-high 15 saves in the game.

Going into the MAAC Championship, Manhattan looked for the win in their first appearance to the finals. Sixth-seeded Siena had previously won the championship in 2010. Manhattan had a lot in their favor, but Siena was on a roll after knocking out the 1st and 3rd seeds Monmouth and Marist to get to the finals.

Siena scored in the opening minute of the game on a shot from Allison Clark. Seven minutes later, Siena notched another goal by Kristen Connors and took a surprising 2-0 lead over Manhattan, who has been known for their defense all season.

“They took advantage of opportunities that we gave them,” Brendan Lawler, Manhattan head coach, said in a halftime interview with ESPN3. “We have to score goals. We know what we have to do. The objective is simple.”

Most of the first half was spent with Siena on offense. They followed in the 20th minute with their third goal of the game by Madison Vazquez, making it a 3-0 lead for Siena. Manhattan’s defense struggled early and throughout, as Manhattan’s back line could not control the game and goalkeeper Kristen Skonieczny allowed three goals on three shots.

Erica Modena, who led the game with 5 shots, notched Manhattan’s first goal of the game with help from Lauren Barton in the 29th minute. The offense picked up in the last few minutes of the first half, but the score remained 3-1 into halftime.

Momentum did not last long on Manhattan’s side as Siena found the back of the net once again on a shot from Kensey Waterman about three minutes into the second half. It remained 4-1 until Connors scored again for Siena in the 73rd minute of the game and Manhattan’s Emily Center soon followed with a goal in the 76th minute. There was back and forth play until the clock winded down and Siena took the 5-2 victory to the tournament.

Despite the loss, Manhattan had a season for the record books. Head coach Brendan Lawler was voted the Lids Team Sports MAAC Coach of the Year. Skonieczny was named Goalkeeper of the Year. Jenny Bitzer earned Defensive Player of the Year. Modena and Nicole Copping earned spots on the All-MAAC First Team and Copping also got All-Rookie honors.

Skonieczny notched a program-record 10 wins and nine shutouts this season, which was the best in the MAAC. She holds the school career records for wins and shutouts, 24 and 17. She led the MAAC and ranks fourth nationally with a .920 save percentage. She is fifth in the NCAA with a .43 GAA, with just four goals allowed against MAAC opponents.

Modena was another key player for the Jaspers this season. She notched her team-leading 12th goal of the season in the semifinal matchup against Rider. She ranked second in the MAAC and 41st nationally with her 12 goals, which are the most by a Manhattan player since Laurie Spera scored 14 in her freshman season in 1998. Modena also ranked second in the league and 89th nationally with her 26 assists on the season.

Finishing up this year’s awards, it was announced after the game that Skonieczny, Modena and Taylor Salkowsky were named to the MAAC All-Tournament Team.

Jaspers Finish Season on a High Note

Fun. Exciting. Inconsistent.

Members of the Manhattan College women’s soccer team (3-5-2 MAAC, 8-8-2) described their 2014 season as it was coming to an end. They finished the season with a strong 4-2 win against MAAC opponent Saint Peter’s. It was a bittersweet moment for the team as it was their final game playing together.

“We just wanted to play for each other,” senior Daniella Morgante said about her final game. “As seniors, we wanted to take the last four years and put it into one game.”

Their win against Saint Peter’s was their 17th straight over the Peacocks. Sophomore Tara Teal found the back of the net first for the Jaspers off a pass from senior Aislinn McIlvenny. Sophomore Lizzy Carlson scored with an assist by Teal to give Manhattan a 2-0 lead.

“We had the best record since I’ve been here,” senior Shannon Garrity said. “Everyone has contributed so much this year, on and off the field.”

Saint Peter’s responded quickly before McIlvenny scored on a penalty kick about 20 minutes into the second half, her 10th of the season. Freshman Dylan Burns recorded her first career goal and sealed Manhattan’s 4-2 victory. As the season came to a close, the team had positive thoughts on what they accomplished this year.

“Something to be proud of is getting through the season with limited players,” assistant coach Sarah Brady said. “We were hit terribly with injuries. The positive is that is younger players stepped up and kept us within the running. I couldn’t be prouder of the players who stepped in.”

Freshman Carly Perry also looked on the plus side when it came to overcoming injuries.

“I feel like we did really well despite the injuries. We only had two subs for a good chunk of the season,” Perry said. “So it’s really cool that we were able to pull off some wins.”

The team was happy to finish on a high note after a tough loss against Canisius to eliminate them from playoff contention. Their chances were left up to that game, and it did not go in their favor. However, the team stayed positive that the loss would help them in the future.

“Any high-pressure situation like that is hard,” Morgante said. “There’s so much on the line. The only thing you can do is be there for each other and support each other no matter what happens, and that’s what we did.”

In their final week of the season, members of the team looked back at their impressive season and how to improve for next year. Injuries were one factor that the team hopes won’t affect them so much in the future. The team also tended to sit back on defense more and being more offensive is something they want to change.

“We gave up some soft goals, ones that we could have definitely avoided,” Assistant Coach Sarah Brady said. “That’s probably the most disappointing thing. There was nothing that absolutely ripped us apart, but we kept making the same errors.”

“Going forward, we’ve got to work on defense,” Garrity said, “and clearing balls out of the box and the air. On the attacking side, we need to work on finishing our opportunities.”

Women’s Soccer Suffers Loss, Eliminated from Playoff Contention

A 3-0 loss to Canisius on the afternoon of Oct. 25 ended the playoff hopes of the Manhattan women’s soccer team. The Jaspers fell to 7-8-2 on the season and 2-5-2 with eight points in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). Canisius improved to 5-5 and 15 points against MAAC opponents, clinching the sixth spot for the playoffs.

Manhattan was coming off of a 1-0 win over Quinnipiac on Oct. 22 when the Jaspers honored their four seniors in their last game at Gaelic Park. The lone goal of the game was early in the second half from Manhattan senior Aislinn McIlvenny. She leads the league with her fifth game-winning goal of the season.

After an even first half, the Jaspers came out strong with McIlvenny’s goal and then outshot the Bobcats 9-2. Junior goalkeeper Kristen Skonieczny recorded her fourth shutout of the season and had two saves in the game. The Jaspers’ offense was strong with six shots on goal and a 4-0 lead in corners.

Saturday afternoon was a different story, however. Canisius scored with 28 minutes left in the first half. Their second goal came just about five minutes later. They went on to score their third and final goal of the game in a total scoring span that lasted just under 10 minutes.

The second half of the game was mostly silent for both teams until Manhattan sophomore Lizzy Carlson notched a pair of shots on goal. McIlvenny had her second shot of the game with just about eight minutes left. Manhattan fell slightly behind the Golden Griffins in shots with a 7-5 deficit on goal and 13-11 total.

McIlvenny has had a standout season in her final year as a Jasper. She has been nominated for the Senior CLASS Award, one of 10 finalists in NCAA women’s soccer. These 10 finalists were chosen from a total of 30 student athletes. This award stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School. It encourages student athletes to use their athletics to make a positive impact and help lead their communities. It recognizes student athletes’ success in four categories: classroom, character, competition and community.

McIlvenny has helped lead the Jaspers this season with her team-high nine goals. In 2013, she was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team and has been a member of the MAAC All-Academic team twice.

The Jaspers were in the midst of a downfall on the season. Before their win on senior night, they suffered a five game losing streak. Two of these matches needed overtime. They were able to come out of one game earning a tie against Siena on Oct. 11. Two more losses would come for Manhattan, despite their strong efforts, before their seventh win of the season against Quinnipiac. The team looks to finish the season on a positive note on Oct. 29 in their final game versus Saint Peter’s.

Women’s Soccer Ties Against Siena

After a tough overtime loss to the Monmouth Hawks on Wednesday Oct. 8, the Manhattan women’s soccer team (1-2-2 MAAC, 6-5-2) was able to fight back and earn a tie against Siena (2-1-3 MAAC, 5-5-5) on Saturday afternoon.

The Jaspers played in their second straight overtime game and fourth in the last six games.

Manhattan’s game against the Hawks ended in heartbreak as Monmouth’s Erica Murphy scored the game-winner with 24 seconds left in the first overtime period. The defending MAAC champions had their third-straight victory with a 2-1 win over Manhattan. Senior Aislinn McIlvenny assisted on Manhattan’s goal as she gave the ball to junior Sam Washuk, who was wide open and got it in the net. Manhattan went into halftime with the 1-0 lead, even though they were outshot 18-3. The Hawks got their goal about 15 minutes into the second half.

Junior Kristen Skonieczny finished the game with an outstanding performance. The goalkeeper had a season-high 12 saves in the game. McIlvenny had her second assist on the season and has been involved in 10 of the team’s 13 goals this season. Washuk scored her third goal of the season.

The Jaspers’ game against Siena had a different storyline. About two minutes into the game, the Saints found the net and took a 1-0 lead. Siena continued strong offensively with 10 shots in the first half, compared to Manhattan’s three. Manhattan took over in the second half with nine shots and a goal to tie the game by junior Emily Ude with about nine minutes left in regulation. Ude earned her first goal of the season. McIlvenny assisted and tallied her third of the season, a team high. Manhattan had two major chances to take the lead by freshman Emily Center and sophomore Lauren Barton. However, both were stopped by Siena goaltender Taylor Booth, who finished the game with six saves. Skonieczny had three saves before getting injured in the second half. Freshman Becca Vitale came in relief of Skonieczny and had two saves.

Siena led the overtime periods with six shots over Manhattan’s two, despite both teams having good chances to score. They also finished with a 20-15 advantage in shots over the Jaspers. In the end, neither team found the net again and it finished in a 1-1 draw. Siena has a 2-1-3 record in the MAAC and Manhattan is now 1-2-2. The Jaspers return home in a 7pm matchup with the Fairfield Stags on October 15. Fairfield is 4-0 in the MAAC.

Jaspers Fall Short Against Gaels

Coming off of their first MAAC win of the season against Marist, the Manhattan women’s soccer team saw the other side quickly.

Competing against the Iona Gaels gave the Jaspers their first MAAC loss of the season. They fell 1-0 to the Gaels at Mazzella Field. Iona is 5-6-2 so far and 1-1-1 in the MAAC. Manhattan now stands at 6-4-1 and 1-1-1 against MAAC opponents.

The first half remained pretty even until Iona scored just before the game went into halftime. They earned a corner kick in the last minute. Junior Kristen Skonieczny saved the first shot, however, Iona’s Erika Flowers got one past her in the last second before the halftime whistle.

Manhattan started off strong in the second half with some good chances early on. Then, their defense stepped up and came up big later in the half. Iona’s Marisa Bentley shot about 25 minutes into the half but it was cleared off the goal line. Shortly after, junior Colleen Kavanagh had a couple strong shots but Iona goalkeeper Morgan McBrier was able to come up with the saves. Kavanagh struck once again in the last minutes of the game. However, McBrier had the save again.

Skonieczny had seven saves for the Jaspers and they tallied five shots on goal against McBrier. The Gaels, however, led Manhattan in shots total, 22-9. They outshot the Jaspers 8-6 in the second half but the Jasper defense was able to keep it a one-goal game.

Manhattan returns to action on October 8th when they host the defending MAAC champions Monmouth Hawks. The Hawks are 8-4 on the season and 3-1 in the MAAC. They are going into the game with a two-game winning streak against Saint Peter’s and Niagara.

Women’s Soccer Gets First MAAC Win of the Season

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.”

Women’s Soccer Ties with Niagara in Double OT

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.”






Women’s Soccer Converts on Chances, Beats Lafayette 1-0

After a closely competitive first half, the Manhattan women’s soccer team capitalized on their multiple offensive chances and took a 1-0 victory over the Lafayette Leopards. Coming off of a tough 1-0 loss to URI in overtime, the Jaspers scored early in the second half to take the lead in the game.

During the first half, Lafayette maintained significant pressure. However, Manhattan was able to hold them from scoring and get some great offensive chances of their own. The next step was to capitalize on these chances. Some went off the crossbar; others were saved by Lafayette’s goalie.

“We have to put them away as quickly as possible,” Kaelyn Angelo said. “We need to get in there and get a little stronger. Our attack did an excellent job on creating those chances, we just have to put them away.”

Despite the various opportunities, the Jaspers needed that extra step and that didn’t happen in the first half. One great chance came about 20 minutes into the game. Carly Perry took a corner kick and then Lauren Barton placed it on goal. Lafayette’s goalie blocked it but McIlvenny had the rebound. She had two attempts but the score remained zero.

“We were sometimes hesitant to shoot,” Shannon Garritty said. “We were getting a lot of opportunities but I think we have to shoot more.”

Communication is key during these instances in a game and the Jaspers were strong throughout. Whether it was between the coaches and players on the field, the goalie to the players, or players to each other, the Jaspers communicated well and got the job done.

“As long as we have that strong foundation,” Angelo said, “we’re pretty solid throughout the game.”

While Lafayette maintained heavier pressure, especially in the first half, the Jaspers kept their composure and had a strong defensive game. Goalie Kristen Skonieczny earned her second shutout win of the season and had four saves in the game.

“We just kept playing our game,” Garritty said. “There were times when we started playing the ball like them but at halftime we talked about strategy and how we need to calm down. I think we did that more in the second half.”

“It’s strict communication,” Angelo said. “We always have to be on top of the march running through and keeping everything tight.”

There were some debatable calls from the referees throughout the game. Some were on Manhattan’s side and some were not. No matter what call it was, the Jaspers didn’t let this get to them or affect their game and they continued to play strongly.

“It’s 50/50, we’re either going to get the call or not,” Angelo said. “When you don’t, you have to keep playing and keep your head up.”

“You know that it’s part of the game,” Garritty said. “You can’t dwell on anything.”

Some important chances the Jaspers were given were the offensive corners. They had two in the first half, which might have given them an earlier lead. In addition, they had another one in the second half that could have given them a greater lead. In the end, however, they were able to maintain their defensive pressure.

“Those are great offensive chances,” Garritty said, “ and we need to convert on them.”

After scoring early in the second half, the Jaspers were left with the sometimes tough job of defending their lead. Of course teams want to score first and lead the game but that puts more pressure on them to keep the lead and defensively hold their opponents.

“It’s definitely tough,” Angelo said, “but you have to stay compact or composed. We can’t let anything silly things happen in the backline. We have to just be strong, communicate well and take care of business.”

“It’s a little nerve-wracking,” Garritty said, ”knowing you have the lead and have to keep it. It just gives us even more motivation to work hard and maintain that lead.”

With their season now at 3-2, the Jaspers are off to their best start since 2008 and only look to progress more. Defense has been strong throughout the season. In regulation, they haven’t given up a goal since early in their win against Binghamton.

“We’re already improving a lot,” Garritty said, ”but that can only keep going. We can convert on more offensive chances and I definitely think we’ll get more wins this season.”