The University of Rhode Island women’s soccer team shutout Maine, 2-0, following two goals late in the game for the Rams that clinched their second win of the season on a Sunday afternoon at the URI Soccer Complex.
The Rams (2-3-1) came out aggressively from the onset, as Maine (4-3-0) was put on the defensive for much of the game, struggling to generate their own offensive opportunities. URI kept had a consistent presence in their opponent’s goal territory, with 10 shots on goal for the game to Maine’s three. Despite the steady attack, keeper Annalena Kriebisch had an answer each time URI struck in the first 45 minutes. The lopsided offensive display, however, did not show up on the scoreboard, with both teams going into the half in a scoreless tie.
URI had a golden opportunity to take the lead, but a sure-fire goal opportunity went awry when the ball bounced off the left post to keep the Black Bears in the match. The Rams were still brimming with confidence as it was clear that the offense had been ignited.
“I think we were kind of waiting for the whole thing to come together, and I think today was our first glimpse of our attack doing really well and our defending was really good again as well,” head coach Michael Needham said. “We were a little too anxious in terms of attacking. We tried to go a little too fast. We were able to do some of the things we talked about.”
Both teams stayed on course in the second half, with URI continuing to push the ball and Maine continuing to thwart any potential goals. The game went into a standstill that seemed to suggest they were headed toward their second draw of the season, which surely would have been unsettling given the stats sheet.
The Rams would finally break through when junior forward Taylor Ross came alive in the 71st minute, putting the Rams on the board and in a favorable position to win after teammate Svana Hermansdottir headed one to her in the corner. Thirteen minutes later, Ross effectively ended the game with an insurance goal after an assist from Jennifer Mencos.
“My teammates won the ball, we got up quickly, we counterattacked, Jenny (Mencos) got me the ball, and I took my shot,” Ross said. “When you have all those opportunities, and you’re almost there, and you’re almost there, you know we’re going to get one. It’s just a matter of when.”
Ross’s clutch goals were her first and second of the season, already putting her on the cusp of surpassing her three goals last season. Needham sees the strides his player has made over the past couple of seasons.
“Taylor’s a big time center forward,” Needham said. “She has the physical attributes to do the job and we saw her score two great goals today. We expect her to score goals and she expects herself to score goals.”
The win marked URI’s second in three games, with a 1-0 loss against Syracuse on Thursday sandwiched between wins versus Vermont and Maine. The Rams next host Creighton tonight at 7 p.m.