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Saints Battle Monmouth For MAAC Championship

Published: November 3, 2018

Siena Women's Soccer looks to secure the program’s third conference crown when the third-seeded Saints battle No. 1 seed Monmouth in the MAAC Championship Match Sunday in West Long Branch, New Jersey at 5 p.m. on ESPN3. The match features the conference’s past three champions, as Siena won its second and most recent title on the Hawks’ home soil in 2015, while Monmouth sets its sights on a three-peat.
 
Tickets can be purchased in advance online or at the field and are priced at $10 for adults, and $5 for seniors, students, and children. On-site social media updates will be provided throughout the day from the @SienaWSoccer twitter account. Join the conversation by using the hashtags #MarchOn, #SienaSaints, and #MAACSoccer.

 

The 2018 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament Champion will earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship bracket will be announced on Monday at 4:30 p.m. online at ncaa.com. 
 
Siena in the MAAC Championships (19th Appearance)
Record: 12-14-2
Championships: 2 (2010, 2015)
Away: 3-2-1
Championship: 2-2
As No. 3 seed: 4-2-1
Vs. Monmouth: 1-1
 
Siena is making its 19th MAAC Tournament appearance and program-record sixth straight. The Saints have captured the program's first two MAAC Tournament Championships over the previous nine seasons, winning their first title the last time they were the No. 3 seed in 2010, before making history as the first – and to date only – No. 6 seed to claim their second title in 2015 here in West Long Branch.

 

Siena leads all league members with 10 MAAC Tournament victories dating back to 2010, while posting a stellar 10-4 record over that time. Monmouth, which joined the conference in 2013, ranks second over that time with nine wins. The Saints had previously accrued just a 2-10-2 mark in MAAC Tournament action over the program’s first 18 seasons in the league. With two more postseason victories under their belt so far this fall, Siena has now won at least one conference tournament match in four of the past six seasons.

 

The Saints are set to make the program’s fifth MAAC Championship Match appearance, having posted an even 2-2 mark. Siena dropped its first two conference title bouts as the No. 4 seed in both 1996 and 2006, before capturing the program’s first two MAAC Tournament Championships in 2010 and 2015.

 

The Saints are 4-2-1 all-time as the No. 3 seed overall, and won the program’s first MAAC Championship the last time they were seeded third in 2010. Siena is 3-2-1 all-time in true road MAAC Tournament matches, including a victory here on the Jersey Shore as the No. 6 seed to upset the top-seeded Hawks 2-1 in the 2015 MAAC Semifinals en route to the program’s second and most recent title.

 

The Saints road to the MAAC Championship Match began with a 2-1 overtime victory over No. 6 seed Quinnipiac last Sunday in Loudonville, in just the program’s second-ever MAAC Tournament home match and first on Siena Field. Freshman Emily McNelis scored both goals, registering the match-tying tally in the 48th minute, and the game-winning golden goal in the 96th minute of the first overtime to make head coach Steve Karbowski a winner on his birthday. Siena then ended I-87 rival Marist’s season for the third time in four years with a convincing 2-0 triumph over the second seeded Red Foxes Thursday night in Poughkeepsie. Darby D’Angelo (23’) and Meghan Riccardi (62’) both scored for the Saints which held a commanding 21-11 advantage in shots.
 
The Series With Monmouth (Ninth Meeting: Monmouth leads, 7-1)
Siena and Monmouth meet for just the ninth time, with all matchups having come since the Hawks joined the MAAC in 2013. Monmouth has won seven of the first eight matchups while outscoring the Saints by a combined 17-7 margin, although Siena’s lone victory in the series was one of the biggest triumphs in program history. In 2015, the sixth seeded Saints upset the top seed Hawks 2-1 in the MAAC Semifinals here in West Long Branch on their way to the program’s second and most recent MAAC Championship.

 

Monmouth captured the regular season meeting between the squads 1-0 on Sept. 29 here on the Jersey Shore. That defeat marked Siena’s final loss before going on to win eight of its next nine matches entering today’s championship bout. Lexie Palladino scored the lone goal of the match in the 20th minute for the Hawks which held a 25-4 advantage in shots. Taylor Dorado was phenomenal in defeat for the Saints, making a season-high 12 saves in goal.

 

Siena and Monmouth are set to meet for the third time in MAAC Tournament action, and the second straight season. The first two matchups both came in the semifinal round, with the victor going on to win the MAAC Championship each time. The sixth seeded Saints stunned the regular season champion Hawks 2-1 in the 2015 MAAC Semifinals here in West Long Branch behind first half goals from Madison Vasquez and Allison Clark. No. 1 seed Monmouth then ended fourth seeded Siena’s run with a 3-1 triumph last Halloween in Florida. Madi Belvito gave the Saints the early lead in the eighth minute, but the Hawks scored three second half goals – two of which came off the foot of Palladino – to rally for the victory.

 

Scouting Siena (11-7-3, 6-2-2)
Siena finished the regular season third in the MAAC after being projected third in the preseason coaches' poll. However, the Saints took a circuitous route to fulfilling their 2018 prognostication.
 
Siena both started and ended the regular season strong, with a challenging stretch sandwiched in between. The Saints kicked off their 2018 slate with a victory over Big East foe Seton Hall to fuel a 3-1-1 start, marking the program's best run to open a season since beginning the 2010 MAAC Championship year a perfect 12-0. Siena then slumped in failing to secure a victory over its ensuing seven matches (0-5-2), while scoring a total of just two goals. But the Saints bounced back with a dominant last month to enter tonight’s title bout playing their best soccer of the season. Siena enters play winners of eight of their last nine, in which they outscored their opponents by a combined 14-3 margin. The stretch has been highlighted by a pair of four-match winning streaks, marking the program's fourth straight year with a late-season winning streak of four or more. The Saints secured their third straight season with at least six regular season conference victories and, with last Sunday’s quarterfinals victory over the Bobcats, notched the program's seventh 10-win season overall in the past 11 years, and second straight.  
 
Siena's unequivocal strength has come from an outstanding defense which has set a new program single-season record this fall with 10 shutouts. Today’s championship match features the conference’s top-two defenses, as Monmouth leads the MAAC in both goals against average (0.36) and shutouts (12), while the Saints rank second in both categories at 0.82 and 10, respectively. Siena and the Hawks tied for the conference lead allowing just three goals over 10 regular season matches. Both the Saints and Dorado established new program team and individual shutout streaks of 513:27 last month, which were punctuated by a program record four straight shutouts.

 

Dorado and the defense were honored for their outstanding play, with three members of the backline earning All-MAAC honors Tuesday. Dorado became the third player in program history to be named MAAC Goalkeeper of the Year, joining Noel Cox (2002) and Taylor Booth (2014). Also named a First Team All-MAAC selection, Dorado tied her own program single-season record this fall with four MAAC Defensive Player of the Week honors, which also increased her program career total to eight weekly awards. She broke both Siena’s career (20) and single-season (nine) shutout records Thursday night at Marist, and currently leads the MAAC in saves (104), while ranking second in goals against average (0.81), shutouts (29th nationally), and save percentage (.867 – 23rd nationally). The junior also currently holds the program’s best career goals against average (0.95), while ranking second in both wins (29) and save percentage (.833), and fifth in saves (254). Starting outside backs Belvito and Amanda Holtzman were both named Second Team All-MAAC honorees. Freshman striker Ashleigh Sarafin was named to the MAAC All-Rookie Team, marking the 18th consecutive season in which Siena had at least one freshman receive MAAC All-Rookie Team acclaim.
 
The Saints have been paced by a balanced offensive attack this fall, with nine different players combining to score the team's 21 goals. A trio of Saints – freshmen McNelis and Sarafin and senior captain Riccardi – currently stand tied for the team lead with nine points apiece, while sophomore Jayanna Monds has chipped in eight points. Six of Siena’s current top-seven scorers are underclassmen, including three freshmen.

 

The Saints have continued to exhibit a flare for the dramatic this season, with three more overtime victories punctuated by last Sunday’s OT win over Quinnipiac. Siena enters today’s match with an impressive 8-2-3 over the program's last 13 overtime contests.
 
The Saints are under the direction of Karbowski, who is in his milestone 20th season leading the program. The 1993 Siena grad has amassed a 184-155-37 (.539) overall record including a 99-66-21 (.589) mark in the MAAC. The winningest coach in program history, Karbowski has led the Saints to the program's first two MAAC Tournament Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances over the past nine seasons (2010, 2015). Over his first 20 seasons at the helm, he has now guided Siena to 14 MAAC Tournament appearances, ten seasons of 10 or more wins, and .500 or better records in 14 of the past 16 years.
 
Scouting Monmouth (15-3-1, 9-1)
Two-time defending MAAC Tournament Champion Monmouth is in search of its fourth title in six seasons since joining the conference in 2013. The Hawks, which have won the MAAC Regular Season Championship in each of their first six seasons in the league, previously won tournament championships in 2013, 2016, and 2017. Monmouth is 9-2 all-time in MAAC Tournament competition.

 

The unanimous selection to repeat as MAAC Champions according to the preseason coaches’ poll, the Hawks lived up to expectations this fall. Monmouth carries a 10-match winning streak into today’s championship contest, in which they’ve outscored the opposition by a whopping 34-2 margin. The Hawks’ 10-match winning streak is tied for the third longest active streak in the nation.

 

Monmouth boasts a program record seven First Team All-MAAC selections and three major award winners in 2018 MAAC Offensive Player of the Year Madie Gibson, Defensive Player of the Year Jessica Johnson, and Rookie of the Year Jill Conklin. The Hawks’ offensive features five double digit point scorers to highlight a balanced attack. Defensively, goalkeeper Amanda Knaub ranks fourth nationally in goals against average (0.33), eighth in save percentage (.905), and 14th in shutouts (10).

 

Monmouth has amassed a stellar 88-22-9 (.777) overall record including a 53-4-3 (.908) conference regular season mark since joining the MAAC in 2013. Including MAAC Tournament action, the Hawks have won seven straight matches vs. conference foes while outscoring the opposition by a 28-1 margin.

 
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