BURLINGTON, Vt. – Senior midfielder Ashley Avitabile (Pembroke, Mass.) found the back of the net in the 65th minute to help the University of New Hampshire women's soccer team to a 1-1 tie against Rider University on the final day of the TD Bank Classic at the University of Vermont's Centennial Field on Sunday afternoon.
Coupled with Vermont's 3-2 loss to La Salle University later in the day, the Wildcats won the tournament for the first time since 2001 when they were co-champions with the University of Tulsa. The 'Cats improved to 1-0-2 on the season, which is their best start since they had an identical record through three matches in 2001. Rider fell to 0-2-0.
After her sister scored in the 85th minute to sink La Salle, 2-1, Friday, Avitabile did not wait quite as long against the Broncos as she gained the equalizer – her first career goal in a UNH uniform – with 25:54 remaining in regulation. Avitabile received a throw-in from junior Kelly Mooney (Canton, Mass.) on the right side of the field, and blasted a shot into the top left corner of the net to knot the game.
Freshman goalkeeper Erica Correa (Cheshire, Conn.), the America East Player of the Game, made eight saves – the most of her young career – to remain undefeated on the season. Correa was named the tournament's Defensive MVP after finishing with the highest total number of saves (13). Along with Ashley Avitabile and junior midfielder Amy Avitabile (Pembroke, Mass.), Correa was also selected to the All-Tournament Team. Rider keeper Alex Post stopped seven shots.
Rider, which outshot UNH, 17-14, jumped on the board first in the 31st minute when Jody Sokol's shot deflected off of teammate Alexis Coughlin and into the net for the 1-0 lead.
The Wildcats return to action Friday, Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. when they take on the College of the Holy Cross at Linda Johnson Smith Soccer Stadium. The next home game for the 'Cats is Sunday, Sept. 5 at 1 p.m. when they play host to Harvard University at Lewis Fields.