On a rainy afternoon in a drenched Gaelic Park, Manhattan’s women’s soccer team concluded their regular season with a 5-1 victory over Iona and clinched the number two seed in the MAAC tournament, earning a first-round bye.
Manhattan improved to 10-4-3 and 6-1-3 in the MAAC. This was just the third time in the program’s 25-year history that the team recorded double-digits in the win column and the first time since 2006.
“This was definitely a great way to end the season,” Emily Ude, one of the team’s six seniors, said. “It was really exciting to build this program and see how far we have come. It’s not over yet.”
Senior goalkeeper Kristen Skonieczny had another great outing to end her final regular season. She had three saves in the game and set the school record for wins in both a season and career with nine and 23, respectively.
“We’ve been very good defensively all year,” Sarah Brady, Manhattan assistant coach, said. “Today the attacking side of the ball really kicked in. The main thing to take out of this game is the confidence. We know we defend well but now we are starting to bite on attack.”
Ude opened the scoring along with fellow senior Sam Washuk in the 12th minute of play. Washuk had a 20-yard cross to Ude, who notched a header to take the first lead of the game. Jenny Bitzer followed in the 20th minute of play when she scored her own header off a Colleen Kavanagh corner kick.
Manhattan took a 2-0 lead into intermission. The score remained until an arguable call in the 24th minute gave Iona a free kick opportunity and they capitalized. However, Manhattan responded with three more goals in the final 15 minutes of the 5-1 victory.
“We’ve come together toward the end of the season,” Ude said, “and now we have a lot of speed up top. I have a lot of confidence in Erica [Modena] and Nicole [Copping] and our outside midfielders who will just get to the end of those balls.”
Modena notched her team-leading 11th goal of the season in the 76th minute of play with an assist from Victoria Reis. Freshman Caroline Taylor followed in the 80th minute, scoring her first collegiate goal. Tara Teal sealed the win with a goal in the 90th minute off an assist from Emma Saul.
“I had an opportunity in the first half when I went in,” Taylor said of her goal, “and I really should have put it away then. I wanted to keep a level head but I knew that if I had an opportunity I really needed to make it count. I saw a corner and went for the corner.”
Despite the heavy rain throughout the game, the Jaspers were not phased by it as they had one of their best offensive outings of the season. Nine different players notched points in the game and the Jaspers had a 25-4 advantage in shots.
“The rain affects the game if you let it,” Brady said. “We played like it wasn’t raining. Everyone contributed today from freshman to senior. It’s brilliant to see. Everything is coming together.”
With this win, they clinched the second seed in the MAAC tournament and earned a first-round bye of the upcoming MAACs. They will play the highest remaining seed in the second round on Nov. 6, which will be at Monmouth University.
Both Ude and Taylor said that key things to bring into the postseason are confidence, keeping a level head and taking it one game at a time. Taylor also emphasized how Manhattan’s offense capitalizes on attacking as a whole, rather than with just two forwards.
“I think that we need to continue with the momentum we have,” Ude said, “and bring that into the games in the future. If we can do that, we will be successful.”