Soccer captures ECAC Championship

Bobby Wagner, Sports Editor

By Bobby Wagner, Sports Editor

The NYU women’s soccer team made the most of their bid into the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships on Sunday, capping off a season that, although still successful, didn’t quite live up to expectation, by beating Rutgers-Newark University 2-1 in the finals at Gaelic Park in the Bronx.

After their most successful year in recent memory and a trip to the NCAA tournament in 2014, the Violets were looking to replicate that performance and then some in 2015. They came out of the gate hot, winning eight straight games early in the season. But that streak was brought to a halt in a double-overtime loss at Carnegie Mellon University. Following their first defeat, they struggled to get back on track, losing a handful of league games that they didn’t play to full potential in.  After conceding the league title to CMU, the Violets needed an at-large bid from the selection committee to get into the NCAA tournament. But they were left out of NCAAs, instead garnering the next-best thing, a top seed in the ECAC championships. Sophomore midfielder Steph Ho said her and the rest of the VIolets were holding out hope that they’d get into the NCAA tournament.

“We knew that we didn’t get the results in conference but we hoped our regional wins could have earned us an at large bid,” Ho said. “It was disappointing but not entirely unexpected.”

They capitalized on their chance to end the season on a high note, breezing through the first two rounds en route to the 2-1 finals victory that was not as close as the score suggested. NYU got on the board early in the 14th minute, when sophomore defender Sharon Lee cleaned up a rebound that bounced in front of goal to give them a 1-0 lead.

The game turned defensive after that, and the Violets back line held strong. As has been the case most of the season, junior goalkeeper Cassie Steinberg was only tested a few times over the course of the contest, but remained solid throughout. The ball did not find the back of the net again until the 70th minute when sophomore forward Teressa Fazio beat Rutgers’ back line and threaded the needle into junior midfielder Lexi Clarke, who coolly finished the play to put the Violets up 2-0.

Once they went up two goals, the game was all but over. The Violets were a perfect 12-0 this year when scoring two or more goals. Rutgers made a desperate attempt at a comeback in the dying minutes of the game, getting a goal to cut the lead in half in the 89th minute. But a miracle comeback was not in the cards for the Scarlet Knights, and NYU went on to take the championship on their home turf. After the match, senior forward Melissa Menta — this being her last game as a Violet — was confident that the future of the Violets is even brighter than what she experienced in her career.

“I think we all learned a lot from this season,” Menta said. “Nothing is going to be handed to us. I know that the younger players are going to take everything that happened this season and apply it to their success moving forward. There’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll be back at the NCAA tournament next year, and every year after that.”

Email Bobby Wagner at [email protected].