Loudonville, N.Y. (NEWS10) — 512 days between matches. Predicted to finish eighth according to the MAAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. An in-season COVID-19 pause. Five regular season matches in 10 days. MAAC Champions. Siena Women’s Soccer overcame all obstacles to earn perhaps its most gratifying MAAC Championship in program history, as the top-seeded Saints prevailed 4-2 in a penalty shootout after battling No. 3 seed and four-time defending champion Monmouth to a scoreless draw on Hickey Field.
“They’re a tough group, we went through a lot in the last year and a half since our last season,” said head coach Steve Karbowski. “Just all the stops and starts and pauses and delays. It’s been mentally tough for them, but they kept themselves together and focused on this goal. This is hard to get to, so for them to come out on top shows a lot.”
Siena (6-0-2) captures its third Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament Championship in program history, all of which have come in five-year increments (2010, 2015, 2020-21). The Saints, who also previously won the program’s first-ever MAAC Regular Season Championship earlier this month, earn the league’s automatic bid to this season’s 48-team NCAA Tournament which will be held exclusively in the State of North Carolina beginning Apr. 27. The NCAA Tournament Selection show revealing Siena’s matchup will air online at NCAA.com Monday at 1 p.m.
Thirteen days after battling Monmouth (5-1-3) to a 1-1 tie here in Loudonville, the MAAC Championship Match pitting the programs which have now accounted for the league’s last six titles looked almost identical. The Hawks once again accumulated numerous shots, but the Saints’ patient defense once again bended without breaking.
Monmouth held a 25-6 advantage in shots and a 17-2 margin in corners, but once again couldn’t solve Leslie Adams. After making a season-high 11 saves in the first meeting the junior goalkeeper, who made her collegiate debut just last month, set a new career-high with 12 saves in the Championship Match.
After the previous five MAAC Championship Matches featured at least a combined six scores, goals were non-existent as the teams slugged it out for 110 minutes and beyond. Siena had one of its better chances in the 18th minute when a streaking Jayanna Monds dribbled around the on-rushing keeper, but hit the side of the net from a tough angle. Meanwhile the Hawks nearly netted the decisive tally in the 85th minute off a header from Maddison Perna, but Adams timed her jump just right to punch the looping attempt over the crossbar.
For just the sixth time in 29 MAAC Championship Matches, and first time since 2014, the title would be decided in a penalty shootout. The Saints saved their best for last in dominating the shootout, racing out to a 2-0 lead through two rounds on goals by Rachel Sullivan and Deanna Lomino coupled with a pair of huge saves from Adams.
The teams then traded scores the rest of the way with Darby D’Angelo putting Siena on the brink before Emily McNelis sealed the championship. The MAAC Tournament MVP fired the decisive PK into the top right corner as the Saints captured their first championship on home turf.
Jesi Rossman registered a match-high 10 shots for Monmouth which had won 11 straight MAAC Tournament matches dating back to their 2015 semifinal defeat vs. Siena. Rebecca Winslow made one save for the Hawks who extended their MAAC Tournament shutout streak to 487:22.