The University of Rhode Island women’s soccer team extended their latest unbeaten streak to six games with a 1-0Â overtimeÂ victoryÂ against Saint Joseph’s University on Friday andÂ aÂ 1-1Â double-overtimeÂ draw against George Mason University on Sunday.
Rhode Island improved its record to 9-1-2 after the weekend and started Atlantic 10 play at 1-0-1. The Rams also moved up two spots in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) regional poll to no. 7 in the region.
After the draw, Rhode Island extended its unbeaten streak to six games, the team’s second five-game undefeated run of the year. Both results mark the fourth and fifth games to go intoÂ extra time this season, which has never happened in Rams’ women’s soccer history.
“Throughout the entirety of regular time the level of play wasÂ high on both sides, they missed their chances, and we missed ours,” Rhode Island head coach Michael Needham said. “[Goalkeeper] Katie [Nickles] matched their goalkeeper’s intensity and did everything she could to give us a chance of winning.”
Both squads had six shots-on-goal, but Rhode Island outshot St. Joseph’s 10-9. Sophomore NicklesÂ had six saves on the nightÂ prior to senior midfielder SamanthaÂ Leyh’sÂ overtime game winner, her fifth score of the season.
“Samantha just narrowly missed on a cross aboutÂ five minutes prior to extra time from Ari [Stanton], but did well to finishÂ on a nearlyÂ identical cross from Ari four minutes into overtime to get us a big first conference victory,” Needham said.
Rhode Island tried to win two in a row to start conference play for the first time since 2007 on Sunday afternoon against George Mason University. The Rams struck first when sophomore midfielder Nicole Brennan connected on a 20-yard shot assisted by freshman midfielderÂ KatrinÂ Gylfadottir.
Brennan led Rhode Island with three shots-on-goal for the afternoon and is first in points on the team with 14.
“Nicole played exceptionally well for us this afternoon.” Needham said. She remained a constant threat offensively, and was unlucky to not put another one in the net. Defensively we allowed them to take far too many shots on our net, but Katie did well to keep most of them out”.
In the second half, George Mason equalized in the 79th minute when Sydney Mitchell connected off of a cornerÂ and put the shot past Nickles. During overtime the match remained at a standstill until LeyhÂ just narrowly missed a shot outside of the 18-yard box.Â Leyh’sÂ attemptÂ struck the crossbar, and freshman defender AmandaÂ NardellaÂ just missed the redirection off of the rebound before George Mason cleared away the last real threat of the game.
George Mason outshot the Rams, 18-14, with nine shots-on-goal against the Rams’ seven. NicklesÂ made eight saves in the game.
“In overtime we had our chances to end the game, andÂ got extremely unlucky on Samantha’s shot that just missed, but that’s soccer for you,” Needham said. “We did well enough toÂ contain George Mason until theÂ end in order to get a result. We’reÂ used to these overtime games at this point.”
Rhode Island looks for their best start since 2000 when they travel to Virginia CommonwealthÂ University this Sunday. VCU is 5-4-3 on the year with all but two of their wins coming at home.