LOUDONVILLE — It’s the only blemish (if you can even call it that) on the Siena women’s soccer team’s season.
It also serves as a preview of the biggest challenge the Saints will face this season.
On April 3, Siena tied Monmouth, winners of the last four MAAC tournaments, and the box score says the Hawks outplayed the Saints, but the result says Siena can be competitive against Monmouth.
The Saints (6-0-1) will have to be better than that at 3 p.m. on Friday, when they host Monmouth (5-1-2), winners of four straight MAAC tournaments, in the MAAC championship game at Hickey Field.
The current sleeping pattern of junior midfielder Carrie Krohn, a Schoharie High graduate who had a goal and an assist in Siena’s 2-1 semifinal win over Rider on Tuesday, suggests the Saints are ready.
“Wow. It literally would mean everything to me,” she said on a rainy Thursday afternoon before practice. “Since Rider, I have not slept through the night. I am so anxious, so excited, so nervous. So I’m just amped up to get out on the field and put my heart into it.”
“That first game [against Monmouth] showed us a lot,” head coach Steve Karbowski said. “Three games that week, and we don’t feel like we played our best game that day, but we were right with them. I think we’re ready for our best game tomorrow [Friday].”
The April 3 game came on the heels of a stretch of three games in five days, the first two of which were road trips to Saint Peter’s and Niagara.
Monmouth enjoyed a 28-7 advantage in shots, 11 of which were saved by Leslie Adams, and a 12-2 edge in corner kicks.
The Hawks had four shots to none for Siena in the two overtime periods, and four corner kicks to none.
“We have looked back on it a lot and have an idea of what they’d like to do and what we’d like to do,” senior Deanna Lomino said. “We were coming off a long game stretch, so probably the legs were a little tired and maybe defensively we weren’t getting back as much as we would’ve liked to. So, yeah, eliminating corners and set pieces will be a key.”
“The first half was good. We were right there, competitive, then 1-1 late and probably hanging on a little bit, defending too much,” Karbowski said. “But that game was very useful for us. [Seeing] their speed and athleticism, their strikers are very good on the ball, so we’ve worked on some things defensively to try to close off some spaces, squeeze the field a little more. We now know who their key players are and have a little better feel for how to defend them.”
Adams, who started in the semifinals after Brooke Boermeester was in goal for the 3-0 quarterfinal win over Iona last Friday, will be in goal against Monmouth.
“We’ve got two good goalkeepers that have been splitting time a little bit,” Karbowski said. “She [Adams] played well against Monmouth and in the semifinal game against Rider, where we did have an early goal and needed to protect it and manage the game. She’ll be ready for the final.”
“The shots were mid-range to my chest,” Adams said. “I think those are the easiest ones, we love those as keepers, right to our hands. Even small diving saves that are mid-range are probably the best.
“We want them to take shots out wide. That’s our main thing. If they play that ball into their target striker, if they do turn, we’d rather them shoot outside rather than come inside the box. Those are the ideal shots where I have the most amount of time to react.”
Siena is the No. 1 seed as the regular-season champion, and Monmouth is No. 3, but history in the tournament says that perhaps the Saints should be considered the underdogs.
“Tying them was a really good result for us, and makes that goal of beating them a little more attainable,” Adams said. “I think we’ll rise up to that challenge. We’re ready to play them, and beat them.”
“They’re another level of soccer, and I think we’re going to rise to that level,” Krohn said. “I think it’s going to be a faster-paced game, more physical, but I think we’re up for the challenge.”