DURHAM, N.H. – Senior goalkeeper Nikki Golding (Milton, Mass.) made five saves and the third-seeded University of New Hampshire women’s soccer team scrapped until the final horn, but its season came to an end Thursday afternoon with a 1-0 loss to No. 6 Binghamton University in the quarterfinal round of the America East tournament at Lewis Fields.
The Wildcats wrap up their season at 6-11-1, including 5-3-0 in America East play, and snap their streak of six-straight semifinal appearances. The Bearcats, who will take on No. 2 Stony Brook at LaValle Stadium on Sunday at 6 p.m. in the second semifinal, improve to 8-8-1 overall after going 3-5-0 in the conference.
Knotted in a scoreless tie, Binghamton jumped on the board in the 36th minute. Nicole Montoya played the ball up the middle of the field to the top of the box where Mary DeWitte and Golding both chased after it. DeWitte got to the ball first and kicked it past Golding, playing it ahead to herself before finding the back of the empty net to give the Bearcats a 1-0 lead. Six minutes later Binghamton had a chance to widen its advantage to two, but came up empty when Charlotte Foster’s volley attempt from the left of the box sailed high.
UNH had plenty of chances of its own, including what was probably its best opportunity in the 79th minute. The Wildcats broke out of their defensive zone with a sequence of crisp passes. Senior Michelle Sheehan (Belmont, Mass.) played the ball up the right sideline to junior Morgan Keefe (South Burlington, Vt.), who found senior Caitlin Whelan (Weymouth, Mass.) in the middle of the field. Junior Shaunna Kaplan (Framingham, Mass.), who was alone on the left side of the box, received a feed from Whelan and looked to net the equalizer, but her attempt was thwarted by goalkeeper Jen MeEachron.
The Wildcats started out the game with chances as well. In the eighth minute, Keefe’s service from the right flank landed in the box, but senior Sara Hourihan (Lynnfield, Mass.) could not square the ball up and get her head on it.
In the 35th minute – just one minute before Binghamton’s game-winner – the Wildcats nearly drew first blood. The service off a corner from Cassie Guerra (DeWitt, N.Y.) was punched away by McEachron, but caromed to the left of the box where Hourihan sent a shot to the left corner of the net that was saved by the goalkeeper.
UNH played with a sense of urgency down the stretch and produced some chances to back that up. In the 70th minute, the service off a corner from junior Meg Wiley (Norwell, Mass.) sailed to the right of the box where Hourihan was again able to get a shot off to the right corner. McEachron, however, was there again to make the save. Three minutes later, Wiley drove the ball into the right side of the box from the left flank where Kaplan tried to sneak it inside the right post, but was denied by McEachron. McEachron made six saves for the Bearcats.
The match was pretty even the whole way, including in the box score where Binghamton held a 12-10 shot advantage and UNH had the edge in corners, 4-3.
This marked the final game for seniors Golding, Sheehan, Whelan, Hourihan and Julie O’Shaughnessy (Manchester, N.H.), who gave the Wildcats a huge emotional lift in the second half.