Huskies trample Cougars, advance to CAA semifinals

Huskies trample Cougars, advance to CAA semifinals
Head coach Ashley Phillips looks on as the Huskies compete earlier this season at home. Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics

In their final home game of the season, Northeastern University women’s soccer put on a show for the fans, trouncing the College of Charleston Cougars Sunday en route to a 6-0 victory to kick off CAA tournament play.

In a win-or-go-home situation, the Huskies put on an offensive showcase that doubled as a much-needed confidence boost: The team scored more goals Sunday than they had in their previous four matches combined.

“We didn’t foresee us winning 6-0, but we’re so grateful we were able to play so well,” fourth-year midfielder Hannah Lopiccolo said. “This was definitely a great way to end our senior year at home.”

The Red and Black stormed out of the gate, returning to midseason form by striking first. In the fourth minute of the match, third-year forward Nicole Gorman tapped a ball from fourth-year forward Kayla Cappuzzo past Charleston keeper Genevieve Henderson into the back of the net, opening the floodgates for an offensive barrage.

Just two minutes later, Lopiccolo was tripped up within the goalie box, setting her up for a penalty shot. When Henderson stopped her first attempt, Lopiccolo blasted a roller off the rebound right past the outstretched arms of Henderson, bringing the Huskies to a quick 2-0 lead. She almost netted another goal in the 20th minute, but her strike nailed the intersection of the crossbar and the right post and bounced right to the Cougars’ defensive line.

After the half, the Huskies proved they weren’t done yet, scoring immediately in the 46th minute. The dynamic duo of Gorman and Cappuzzo linked up once again, as Cappuzzo sent a beautiful cross from the right directly to Gorman, who blasted a shot squarely into a stunned Henderson. The ball took a friendly bounce and soared into the top of the net, giving Gorman her second goal of the match.

Cappuzzo, already the program’s all-time assist leader, added a third assist to her day with a cross to third-year forward Hannah Rosenblatt, who sent one right past a confused Henderson and into the mesh in the 63rd minute. The assist put her program record further out of reach, tallying 25 for her illustrious career.

With the game far out of reach, the College of Charleston pulled Henderson and replaced her with first-year goalie Maggie Berlin, who saw her fair share of shots during her 15 minutes in net.

In the 85th minute, fourth-year forward Taylor Caparo directed a shot right at Berlin, but the rebound reached second-year defender Emily Evangelista, who struck one between the posts for her first collegiate goal.

To put the icing on the cake, Rosenblatt took one last shot in the 89th minute. Her perfect strike from 20 yards out soared past Berlin into the upper-left corner of the net, giving the Huskies a six-goal lead just prior to the end of the match.

Head coach Ashley Phillips lauded her freshmen in their first career CAA tournament match, noting that the performance came as a surprise to none.

“[Our freshman] have gotten good minutes this year,” she said. “They’ve been fantastic all season, so I wasn’t really worried about them too much. They have their strengths and weaknesses, and they’re always working to get better. They love winning, and they were truly spectacular for us.”

Lopiccolo said the upperclassmen had some words of encouragement for the freshmen before such a big match.

“We told them just to play the way they know how to play,” Lopiccolo said. “Our team has won [the CAA tournament] so many times, and everyone who comes against us just wants to knock us out, so we made sure we were confident in our abilities.”

Phillips stressed the importance of a momentum-boost before an upcoming bout with a Drexel squad whom they tied in their last meeting.

“We needed to make a statement,” Phillips said. “We’ve had our ups and downs as a team this year and we really hadn’t found our stride. We focused on trying to find that going into the playoffs. I think that was just the start of it. Friday’s going to be a great game between two really good teams and we both want to win really badly. We just have to remember that it’s about what we do and not about what they can do.”

The Huskies will face the Drexel Dragons Friday at Hofstra University, and the winner will take on the victor of the William and Mary v. Hofstra match Sunday for the CAA title and a berth in the NCAA Women’s College Cup.

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