W Soccer 9.20.17

Women’s Soccer Starts Conference Play 1-0

The women’s soccer team started off conference play with a 2-0 shutout against Niagara on Saturday afternoon. The win makes it a five game unbeaten streak (4-0-1) for the Hawks.

Following an action-packed week of soccer where the Monmouth women went (2-0-1), closing out last week with the hard-fought tie at Hofstra, the Hawks got a bit of rest before opening conference play at Niagara on Saturday.

The five-day break was well needed as Monmouth had played four games in the ten days previously, where they managed an impressive (3-0-1) record on short rest.

MU was anticipating the start of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play, where they went undefeated last year with an (9-0-1) record, earning them the number one seed in the 2016 MAAC tournament that they went on to win.

In 2016’s matchup versus Niagara, the Hawks dominated with a 5-0 victory led by now sophomore forward Madie Gibson’s hat trick. Niagara struggled mightily last year finishing towards the bottom of the MAAC with a (5-10-1) record.

After last year’s blowout, Niagara looked to offer a greater challenge, coming in with a much improved (4-2-1) record in the early season. The Purple Eagles came into Saturday’s matchup towards the top of the MAAC conference with Monmouth looking to knock them down just a couple of spots behind.

The Saturday morning conference opener did not disappoint between two of the MAAC front runners battling at Niagara Field in New York.

Monmouth started off hot, carrying the momentum of last week by taking two shots within the first three minutes. Eventually, the Hawks would execute on their quick start as last week’s hero with the last second dramatics, senior forward Rachelle Ross, decided to change it up this week by becoming the distributor. Ross dished a pass to senior midfielder Miranda Konstantinides, who escaped a defender and found the lower corner of the net for the first time this season, in just the 6th minute of the game.

The goal was Konstantinides’ first point of the season as she continues to look for her first assist.

Meanwhile, the assist was Ross’ second of the year, and her fourth point, but she wasn’t done there.

Niagara responded with multiple offensive pushes in the first half where they created opportunities that were shut down by sophomore goalkeeper Amanda Knaub.

Monmouth went into halftime with the 1-0 advantage after an excellent defensive effort yet again and the early offense.

The second half got off to a slow start with a couple of shots by the Purple Eagles that were well off the mark. Things picked up in the 72nd minute when Gibson crossed a ball into the penalty area with her left foot. The ball would find Ross who headed the ball beneath the crossbar and over the goalie’s head to improve the lead to 2-0.

The goal was Ross’ second of the year and improved her team-leading point total to six.

Knaub brushed off a couple of late efforts by Niagara, closing out another game, notching her fifth shutout of the season, and fourteenth of her career.

Head Coach Krissy Turner was proud of the team’s strong effort in the conference opener saying, “We defended well today and created some excellent scoring chances.”

The win improved Monmouth’s record to 4-2-2, propelling them above Niagara in the MAAC standings, as the Purple Eagles dropped to (4-3-1).

Coach Turner added that “we are 1-0 in conference play, which is a great starting point.”

The Hawks will look to bring this momentum into next week where they will continue MAAC play with a test at home against first place Canisius on Saturday, Sept. 23rd at 1 p.m., who comes in with a (5-2-1) record.

PHOTO COURTESY of Karlee Sell/Monmouth Athletics