Steve Karbowski could not have scripted a much better way to celebrate his birthday Wednesday. The winningest coach in program history, he earned his milestone 150th career victory as Siena Women’s Soccer clinched its third straight MAAC Championships appearance and captured the sixth and final conference tournament berth with a 2-0 triumph at Quinnipiac in the regular season finale.
Unbeaten in their last four matches and winners of three in a row, the red-hot Saints (9-6-3, 5-4-1) enter the MAAC Championships as the No. 6 seed and will open at third seeded Marist in the quarterfinal round Saturday in Poughkeepsie. The Saints defeated the Red Foxes 1-0 in the regular season meeting between the squads last Wednesday in Loudonville.
The stakes could not have been any higher for Siena and Quinnipiac (8-8-1, 4-5-1) entering the final regular season contest. The Saints needed a win to secure the final MAAC Tournament berth, while the Bobcats needed either a win or a tie to get in.
With their season on the line, Siena came out strong in the first half holding an 11-4 advantage in shots and created the opening score in the 36th minute. Senior striker Michelle Yanniello sent a cross into the box which sophomore midfielder Madison Vasquez finished for her team-leading fifth goal of the year.
The Bobcats would spend the remainder of the match desperately chasing the tying goal, but with just under 10 minutes remaining in regulation the Saints put it away. Freshman striker Meghan Riccardi put home the rebound following a corner kick for her third goal of the year as the Saints ran their unbeaten streak against the Bobcats to seven (6-0-1).
Senior goalkeeper Liz Rogan made six saves to post her seventh individual clean sheet and thus move into a tie for the second most shutouts in program single-season history. In the process, she lowered her stellar goals against average to under 1.00 for the season (0.99), while eclipsing an 80% save percentage (.802).
As a unit, the Saints recorded their third consecutive shutout for a second time this season in shutting down a Quinnipiac offense which had entered play ranked second in the MAAC in scoring. Overall, it was Siena’s eighth shutout of the fall, tying for the most in program single-season history (2001, 2008). The Saints will carry a shutout streak of 353:21 into postseason play, marking the second longest in program history (355:31 in 2010). Siena’s 0.96 team goals against average is the program’s lowest since 2009 (0.93).
Siena held a 16-12 edge in shots for the match, including a 9-5 margin in corners. Natalia Grodzki made four saves in a losing effort for the Bobcats.
The victory also marked the 100th all-time MAAC Regular Season win for the Saints which earn a shot to pursue the program’s second MAAC Championship. Siena captured the title in 2010.