The University of Rhode Island women’s soccer team knocked off Wagner University at the Kingston Soccer Complex on Friday night, 3-2.
The Rams followed up their comeback win against the Seahawks with a 3-0 home shutout of the University of Maine on Sunday afternoon.
With the victories, Rhode Island raised their record to 8-1-1 and exceeded their victory total of six from the 2013 season.
“Our mentality in the first half just wasn’t good enough,” Rhode Island head coach Michael Needham said. “We talked about coming out in the second half and getting after them [Wagner] and they answered the call.”
Seahawks goalkeeper Katie Marcy fouled sophomore forward Donika Murray in the box with less than two minutes remaining in regulation and the score tied at 2, leading to a penalty shot for the Rams. Sophomore midfielder Nicole Brennan sent her shot up the middle and into the back of the net to seal the win.
Facing an early 2-0 deficit with just more than 10 minutes until halftime, Rhode Island evened the score when Brennan and freshman Amanda Nardella netted back-to-back goals. Brennan now leads the Rams in scoring with 12 points.
“They really did the work before halftime by getting back to 2-2,” Needham said. “That just changes the game right before halftime. To get back to 2-2 is always a little bit of a deal, we did it against Harvard and we learned something from that game.”
Murray has had a big impact on the Rams this season, registering seven points on two goals and three assists. Murray made her presence felt on offense for the Rams, taking five shots during the victory over the Seahawks. She leads the team in shots with 22 on the season.
“Donika’s impact is huge,” Needham said. “She is super athletic, she’s creative, she’s very dangerous and she creates all kinds of problems. She earned the penalty shot for us and she’s a big time player.”
Rhode Island looked to carry their success into Sunday’s game against Maine, who had lost five of their last seven games coming into Kingston.
Goalkeeper Reilly Lindsey was forced to make two consecutive saves in the 14th minute in order to keep Maine off of the board early. The Rams’ first goal came 20 minutes later when Simone Hansen connected on a Nardella pass for her second goal on the season. Nardella was taken down in the box earning Rhode Island a penalty kick three minutes later, which was taken and finished by Nicole Brennan for her fourth goal on the season.
Rhode Island held the offensive momentum in the first half, outshooting the Black Bears 8-4 and taking eight corner kicks.
“We finished the first half strong after coming out reserved when we could have had a lot more chances go our way,” Needham said. “We did what was necessary in order to put a couple goals in the back of the net going into the half”.
Samantha Leyh gave the Rams an insurance goal in the 49th minute when she headed in a Nicole Brennan corner kick for her fourth score of the season.
Brennan’s eight points over the weekend secured her the Corvais Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week Award. She was also named GoRhody.com Female Athlete of the Week and Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Week for her efforts.
Lindsey only had to make one save during the second half, and totaled four for the game. Maine goalkeeper Claudia Dube-Trempe had to make eight saves in all on the afternoon with five of them coming in the second half.
“Our girls gave a quality effort this afternoon although we could have put a few more chances away we got the clean sheet and added another win to our record,” Needham said. “The streak is meaningless. However it is nice to see consistency in our program as that is what we aim for, and hope to continue.”
Rhode Island will host St. Joseph’s University on Friday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m. at the Kingston Soccer Complex for their Atlantic 10 Conference opener.