By Patrick Burgard, news staff
The Northeastern women’s soccer team won its third Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship in four years on Sunday and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the fourth time since 2008.
Led by the offensive play of sophomore forward Hannah Rosenblatt and rock solid defensive play, the No. 1 Huskies knocked out the College of William & Mary 3-0 on Friday in the semi-finals and the No. 2 seed Drexel University 3-0 on Sunday to clinch the title.
“These guys worked so hard for this,” said head coach Ashley Phillips after receiving the trophy Sunday. “Last year we didn’t do so well, and I think they remembered that. That’s what competitors do, they learn from mistakes and hardships. They haven’t changed their attitude from start to finish.”
Rosenblatt, the Huskies’ top scorer this season with 13 goals, netted two goals over the weekend and earned the distinction of the CAA Championship’s Most Outstanding Player.
“Every individual award is from your teammates,” Rosenblatt said. “You can’t do anything alone, so honestly I give it all to my teammates.”
Alongside Rosenblatt, senior midfielder Carina Deandreis, senior defender Jenny Sinclair and sophomore goalkeeper Nathalie Nidetch were named to the CAA All-Tournament Team.
From the first whistle against William & Mary, it was obvious Northeastern came prepared. The Huskies outshot William & Mary 22-11, won neutral balls and played very efficient defense.
In the 14th minute, junior midfielder Hannah Lopiccolo struck a low corner kick into box in front of the goal, which Rosenblatt cleaned up, putting the Huskies on the board.
The Huskies’ excellent passing game was also on full display in the 30th minute as Lopiccolo got her second assist by booting a free kick downfield to junior forward Kayla Cappuzzo, who in turn crossed the ball into the box. Sophomore defensive back Eve Goulet executed a textbook header into the back of the net for her first collegiate goal.
The Northeastern offensive machine stayed hot in the second half as senior midfielder Krista Meaglia placed a corner kick into the middle of the box that sophomore midfielder Valentina Soares Gache was able to head inside the right post to put the Huskies up 3-0.
Northeastern’s defensive game was on par with their offensive performance. Nidetch earned her stripes with six saves – including a brilliant deflection near the end of the first half – and the defense had several key interceptions.
“That was probably their best performance,” Phillips said of the defense after the game.
In the championship game Sunday, the Huskies faced a formidable Drexel offense, which gave the team their biggest challenge in recent memory. While Northeastern defense was up for it, their persistence carried over from Friday’s game, and they shut out second-ranked Drexel 3-0.
As with the first game, Rosenblatt drew first blood. In the 23rd minute, after managing to trap an elevated cross from Cappuzzo and bring it to the ground while facing away from the goal, Rosenblatt planted her foot and drove the ball inside the right post in an astonishing feat of leg and core strength.
Cappuzzo’s assist on the play was her seventh of the season, a new single-season program record. In the 57th minute, she had another assist on sophomore midfielder Nicole Gorman’s goal, her first of the season to put Northeastern up 2-0.
In the 70th minute, Deandreis sealed the deal on a free kick from 20 yards out with a laser to the bottom right corner of the net.
After 90 minutes, the clock ran out and it was official: the Huskies were champions.
“This is what we work all year for. We put in all the work during the summer, during preseason, just to play in this game,” said senior defensive back Mackenzie Dowd. “To end my season and my career with a ring is an incredible feeling.”
Photo by Jerry Yu