DURHAM, NH – After 90 minutes of regular play and a couple of overtime, neither University of New Hampshire (UNH) women’s football (1-2-1, 0-0-0) nor St. Francis College Brooklyn (1-2-1, 0-0-0) nor St. Francis College Brooklyn (1-2. ) -2, 0-0-0) could score a goal and give UNH their first draw of the season.
UNH head coach Steve Welham admitted that playing a game as complete as the Wildcats and only getting away with a tie was frustrating.
“It almost feels like a loss – a bad loss,” Welham said. “But that’s part of football, where you can dominate a team and not win.”
Part of the Wildcats’ dominance came offensively as the team recorded 12 shots on goal and 19 corner kicks. But at every chance they were turned down by a strong St. Francis defense and junior goalkeeper Kili Keshwar to keep the ‘Cats’ from finding the net.
However, the number of opportunities generated encouraged Welham, even if the team did not receive the ultimate award.
“For us too [get 19 corner kicks] was very positive. We will be sharper in these areas, ”said Welham. “But we just have to make better use of our chances. This is the last piece for us. “
UNH got one of their higher quality looks 13 minutes after the second half. Second year Emily Bini took a corner kick, ran it through the legs of two teammates, and found first year striker Abbie Burgess. Burgess slammed him from 20 yards, forcing Keshwar to stand, but the shot slid off the top post and out of play.
Burgess had a few more chances during the game. One came with a shot that was just too far out of bounds. Another was a runaway that junior defense attorney Hannah Russell thwarted thanks to a persistent defense that prevented Burgess from firing a shot.
Regardless, it has been slow overall for the Wildcats offensive as they have only scored one goal in their last three games.
A strong night on the defense also contributed to UNH’s dominance. They kept St. Francis on two shots on goal, both saved by UNH’s senior goalkeeper Cat Sheppard, and allowed only four corner kicks.
Welham was enthusiastic about the defensive game of the Wildcats. He believes this, like the odds generated by the offense, suggests that the Wildcats are headed in the right direction, even if their record indicates otherwise.
“We feel like we can be in every game. It’s still a young season in which we only have four games. So there are many good signs. ”
St. Francis had his best chance to equalize in the 32nd minute of the game. The ball found St. Francis Junior Jamie-Lyn Shimamoto after a distraction. Shimamoto kicked the top post but hit the crossbar. As St. Francis charged for the ball, which was now in front of the net, the referees decided it was out of bounds and ended the threat.
The Wildcats changed their starting line-up with the addition of second midfielder Anna Hewlett, who replaced the first year striker Meghan Guarente.
Hewlett, who started all seven games for UNH last season and logged 102 minutes on Thursday evening, was pushed back into the starting line-up. She has now fully recovered from an illness from this summer and is back in shape, Welham said.
Welham added that their return was a huge boost for the team both offensively and defensively.
“Having Anna back in the starting line-up makes us look more offensively. [Hewlett’s] a very talented player. Your vision, your creativity, your ability to distribute the ball: first class. “
Fortunately, the Wildcats don’t have to worry about the health of senior citizen and co-captain Francesca Picicci, Welham said. In a header attempt in the second extension, Picicci ran against the goal post and fell to the ground. She got up again before she was eventually substituted with two minutes left.
“[Picicci] is healthy. It’s good for Sunday, ”Welham said. “She plays through a river if you ask her.”
UNH will resume their homestand and try to claim their first win since Sept.
Photo courtesy Rick Wilson