The UNH women's soccer team picked up its second straight home victory Thursday afternoon, defeating conference foe Albany, 5-3, at rainy Lewis Field. The win lifts UNH to 3-7-1 on the season overall and 1-0 in the America East conference.
The Wildcats were propelled by a stellar offensive performance by freshman forward Megan Ledwith. Ledwith got UNH on the board first, as she scored 20 minutes into the first half, assisted by senior Taylor Finley.
Ledwith helped pad UNH's lead going into halftime, assisting on teammate Monique Lamotte's goal near the end of the first half. Lamotte put the Wildcats up 2-0 going into halftime with a deep, 35-yard goal that sailed just over the outstretched hands of Albany's goalkeeper.
The Wildcats never looked back. UNH added to its lead just minutes into the second frame, as Ledwith scored her second goal of the day, using evasive ball handling skills to beat Albany's defenders and put the ball in the net. The score marked Ledwith's third goal in the past two games, part of what has been an impressive offensive season for the freshman. Ledwith leads UNH in goals scored (three) and in assists (two) on the season.
"I came off the bench looking for a spark and looking to add to the offensive end," Ledwith said following the win. "Today I did that. Hopefully it keeps continuing."
Ledwith provided an offensive spark indeed, as the Wildcats posted two more goals in the second half, bringing their overall scoring output to five for the game. For a team that had scored only six goals on the season going into Thursday's matchup, the offensive coming-out party arrives just in time, as the Wildcats head into a month of conference play.
"This was huge," Ledwith said. "We were preparing for this game for a really long time. We needed this win. It was our first conference game. We knew that was at stake, so we were ready."
Albany did manage to score three goals in the second half, adding a slight damper to the Wildcats' otherwise lopsided victory. Thanks to a pair of second-half goals from UNH forwards Brooke Duchaney and Chelsea Kuss, the Wildcats' lead was never truly threatened.
The win marks the second straight home victory for the Wildcats, both of which are games UNH dominated. In their last two outings in Durham, the ‘Cats have outscored its opponents seven to three and outshot opposing offenses 38 to 22. According to head coach Michael Jackson, the solid performances at home can be attributed to the team effectively carrying out its game plan.
"We're happy. This is what we work on and today we executed," Jackson said after the game. "What we did today is what we're trying to do every game: pressure the ball, score goals, work hard and play smart. We executed the game plan.
Five goals is crazy. … It was a great performance by the team. We came out strong and never let up."
The Wildcats will look to take that winning formula on the road with them, as they head to Hartford to face an undefeated Hawks squad this coming Sunday. Jackson knows that while Thursday's win was nice, there is still room for improvement for his team.
"We need to make sure to minimize the lapses on defense," Jackson said. "We did give up three goals and we're not going to score five goals every game. So I think we've got to look at how we gave up the goals, because we can't give up three goals regularly and win. You've got to keep working."