DURHAM, N.H. – The fifth-seeded University of New Hampshire women's soccer team has earned its 10th-straight berth into the America East Championship tournament – a conference record – and will travel to Varsity Field to take on No. 4 University at Albany on Oct. 28 at 2 p.m.
The Wildcats enter the tournament on a high note as they are unbeaten in four of their last five matches. They have also lost just twice in their previous eight contests (4-2-2) and have gone 6-3-2 over the last 11.
The offense is not only scoring, but scoring in a timely fashion, which is a big reason for the team's success as of late. After netting one goal per game through the first 11 contests of the season, the Wildcat offense has found a rhythm and is averaging 1.5 goals per game over the last eight. The 'Cats have been led recently by sophomore and America East All-Conference Second Team member Chelsea Kuss (Warners, N.Y.) and senior Carole LeBlanc (Grand-Digue, New Brunswick). Kuss, who leads the team with 12 points on three goals and six assists, has tallied eight points over the last eight games, including at least one point in five of the last eight. She ranks second in the league in assists and ninth in points. LeBlanc has buried four goals for eight points on the season, with all four goals coming in the last eight matches. She ranks fourth in the conference with three game-winning strikes. Midfielders Stephanie Gilkenson (Cranston, R.I.) and Monique Lamotte (Tampa, Fla.) have also been playing well down the stretch. Gilkenson, a junior, has recorded six points on two goals and two assists this season, with the two tallies coming within the last eight contests. Lamotte, who was an All-Conference Second Team and All-Rookie Team member a year ago, was again selected to the Second Team this season after amassing six points on two goals and two assists.
The Wildcat defense has also locked down recently, giving up just 1.13 goals per game over the last eight after allowing 1.45 goals per game through the first 11. Anchored by All-Conference First Team selection Kelly Mooney (Canton, Mass.), the backfield ranks third in the conference in goals against average (1.24), fourth in shutouts (4) and fifth in goals allowed per game (1.32). Despite losing sophomore Kelly Spencer (Exeter, N.H.) to injury eight games ago, the backfield has upped its play with contributions from senior tri-captain Marika Posehn (Duncan, British Columbia), junior Taylor Finley (Bedford, N.H.) and freshman Kelsi O'Neil (Hampton, N.H.).
Maybe the steadiest contributor for the Wildcat squad this season has been All-Rookie Team goalkeeper Erica Correa (Cheshire, Conn.). Correa, who has played every single second in net for the 'Cats, leads the conference in saves (111), while ranking second in save percentage (.817), third in shutouts (4) and fifth in GAA (1.24). Correa has enjoyed conference play, posting a 1.09 GAA and an .847 save percentage. She has also turned her game up a notch since the calendar turned to October, posting a 0.96 GAA and an .844 save percentage.
In their regular-season meeting with the Great Danes on Oct. 7, the Wildcats suffered a 2-1 loss at Varsity Field. Kuss set up a Gilkenson goal in the 28th minute to stake the 'Cats to a 1-0 lead, but a pair of Shayla Bergeron tallies, including one with 2:36 remaining in regulation, sunk the Wildcats. Correa stopped seven shots.
With a win at Albany, the Wildcats would then play at either top-seeded Boston University or No. 2 Stony Brook on Sunday, Oct. 31; that depends on the outcome of the other quarterfinal match, No. 6 Maine at third-seeded Hartford.