UVM downs Albany, advances to America East Championship
Cats one win away from first NCAA tournament trip
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - After falling behind on a first half penalty kick, the UVM women’s soccer team responded with a trio of unanswered goals to down Albany 3-1 in the America East Semifinals Thursday night at Virtue Field. With the win, Vermont advances to the America East Championship for just the second time in program history.
Winners of seven straight games entering their tussle with the Great Danes, UVM had some nervy moments in the first half. In the 21st minute, CVU grad Natalie Durieux took down an Albany attacker in the box, bringing a whistle and a penalty kick for the Danes. Lydia Kessel made a great diving effort on Jasmine Colbert’s attempt, but her initial stop pushed the ball off the post, with the deflection bouncing back off her shoulder and in to hand the visitors a 1-0 lead.
But the Cats were undeterred. Just 13 minutes later, Kate Bossert lofted a ball into the box and Karen Wallace headed it inside the right post for the equalizer to get UVM back on level terms headed into the locker room.
Early in the second half, Alexa Mihale would line up a free kick in a dangerous position, and after it bounced a few times in the box, Alex West pounced to poke it home and hand the Cats their first lead at 2-1.
Durieux would then make up for her earlier mistake in the 65th minute. She swung a ball in from the corner that Wallace was able to turn on off the volley, sneaking inside the far post to put this game away.
The 3-1 win was UVM’s eighth straight this season, and it will send the Cats to the America East title game for the first time since 2017. The Cats say the biggest reason for their success has been their depth.
“I was extremely ready,” Wallace said of coming off the bench to contribute her brace. “I know right when I go in that who knows how long you’re going to be in. So just kind of when you’re out there, push yourself for as long as you can go. I think a special thing about us is that we’re so deep, and I think anyone on this team can score. Anyone can make an amazing play, so I just think that’s why we’ve been really special and really successful this year...everyone brings something.”
“We’ve really said from the start of the season that we don’t have a starting 11, we have a full team of 30,” said head coach Kristi Huizenga. We almost have a starting 15. We just don’t have enough spots for all of the talent that we have, which makes it incredible when we sub in: the level doesn’t just stay the same, it almost raises.”
Vermont is now one win away from their first ever trip to the NCAA tournament. The Cats will get their chance to punch their ticket on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. when they welcome in UNH for the second time in a week and a half.
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