ALBANY — The University at Albany women's soccer team is one win away from the NCAA Tournament after an upset road victory over No. 2 Hartford in the America East Soccer Tournament semifinal last Sunday.
Next up for the third-seeded Great Danes is an America East championship matchup 1 p.m. Sunday against fourth-seeded UMass Lowell. It’s a game the Great Danes get to play at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium. They have won seven of their last eight games, and shut out opponents in six of those wins.
"It's really cool because I have a lot of people coming in now, a lot of friends, and family, so we will have a good fan base section out there. They'll be cheering," said UAlbany redshirt sophomore Meghan Cavanaugh, a Shenendehowa graduate.
"It's like everything you could ever dream of, having a final game on your home field, and [with] us being close, everyone can come and watch, so it's going to be a lot of fun," said redshirt freshman Hannah Murphy, a Saratoga Springs graduate.
Cavanaugh and Murphy are two of several UAlbany players with local roots. Getting to play Sunday’s game at home is extra special — and motivating — for the Great Danes.
"My personal goal is to win the America East, fight as a team and for each other," Cavanaugh said.
That type of team-first attitude is what has carried the Great Danes this season.
"The team chemistry is very important, especially because the grit our team has is what's pulling us through to the end,” Murphy said.
"Our chemistry just keeps getting better and better," said Cavanaugh.
UAlbany is attempting to reach the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years.
"To get the chance at home, we're thrilled, we're very happy to be at home playing for a championship on Sunday," UAlbany head coach Nick Bochette said.
UAlbany heads into Sunday's game with a 13-6-2 overall record. When playing at home this season, UAlbany is 7-1-1.
"In the last few games, we've worked really hard,” Bochette said. “There's nothing that makes up for the level of grit these girls have, and that is what really makes us special.”
SIENA GOES FOR CHAMPIONSHIP, TOO
The third-seeded Siena College women’s soccer team will play for a MAAC championship at 5 p.m. Sunday at top-seeded Monmouth. Siena won 2-0 against second-seeded Marist in the semifinals on Thursday.
Siena is 11-7-3 on the season, but is 8-1-0 in its last nine matches. Leading the way for the Saints has been junior goalie Taylor Dorado, a Guilderland native who has recorded nine shutouts this season.
Monmouth is the two-time defending MAAC champion and defeated Siena 1-0 during the regular season.
Siena will be making its fifth appearance in a MAAC championship game. Siena won MAAC championships in 2010 and 2015.