The Manhattan College women’s soccer team began its Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play this past Sunday. And after coming away victorious over Yale University in their last game, the Jaspers looked to win against the Niagara Purple Eagles (4-1-3, 0-0-1 MAAC) for the first time since 2010.
After a hard fought game and overtime, the game between the Jaspers and Eagles ended with a 1-1 tie.
“At the start of the game, obviously we always want to win,” assistant coach Sarah Brady said. “But if we knew we would come out of this with a point against Niagara, we would be satisfied.”
The Eagles have been a tough opponent for the Jaspers. Four of their last five games against them have been losses. However, each of those match-ups were decided by one goal.
It was the Jaspers’ defense that stepped up and kept this particular game a tie, especially with strong play at goal from junior Kristen Skonieczny, who had some key saves in overtime.
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.
Everyone “stuck together from the backline to the forwards and played team defense,” said junior Colleen Kavanagh.
“I think that makes or breaks a game,” junior 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.”
The Jaspers only goal of the game came courtesy of senior Aislinn Mcllvenny, the team’s goal scoring leader, via a penalty kick in the first-half, which notched her seventh goal of the season.
“It was really important to stay tight and compact,” senior 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 had chances but just did not capitalize.
Both Brady and Angelo agree the tie with the Eagles was “frustrating…because we all gutted it out for 110 minutes and we only get one point” but that “it’s still better than a loss.”
For the most part, the Jaspers will continue to play how they are now. Key offensive chances and strong defense have been important to them. They look to stay together as a team and tighten the gaps between offense and defense.
“We’ve come in with the right attitude,” 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.”
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 College (1-5-0).
“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.”