New Hampshire played a host of top-tier talent this season, including NCAA-tournament bound opponents such as #14 Princeton back in August. Princeton would win the Ivy League in 2018 and faced Texas Tech in the first round of the NCAA.
The Wildcats also faced off with Arizona and Arizona State in the Sun Devil Desert Classic, hosted by ASU, in which the Wildcats recorded their first modern-day victory over power-five conference school. UNH defeated Arizona State 2-1 on Sepetember 1st, which was the Wildcats’ first victory against a power-five conference school since September 16, 1989, a 3-2 win over ACC foe Duke.
ASU finished the year with a 10-7-1 overall record and a 5-5-0 Pac-12 record. The victory over Arizona State was UNH's first win against the Pac-12.
The Wildcats were unable to pick up their second Pac-12 victory of the weekend as they fell to Arizona, 2-0. Arizona ended its season in the second round of the NCAA tournament after winning the opening round matchup against Denver. The UNH Wildcats held the Arizona Wildcats to just two goals in the contest, after Arizona scored 11 goals total in their two games leading up to the UNH matchup.
The Wildcats posted an impressive 4-3-2 record when playing away from Durham this season, including big road wins at Rhode Island, Sacred Heart, Arizona State, and a key win at Binghamton to clinch a playoff spot, including two goals in the 87th and 92nd minutes to overcome a 1-goal deficit.
The Wildcats had an impressive 4-1-2 record in overtime games this season, which included the first two games of the year; UNH opened the season on the road at Rhode Island, and after two lead changes, found themselves tied 3-3 going into the extra frame. Junior transfer Ally Reynolds (Weymouth, Mass.), who transferred from Rhode Island, notched the game-winning tally in that contest with 52 seconds left of the clock in the first overtime. Reynolds would play hero again in the home opener against Holy Cross, scoring just seconds into the second overtime period for her second-straight game-winning goal, pushing the Wildcats to 2-0-0 to start the year.
The first two games of the season will go down in history as the program’s first back-to-back overtime victories.
UNH played to a scoreless draw with UMass Lowell for the second straight season, and the other tie was a late heroic effort by junior Megan Rumbold (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) as she scored on a free kick in the 88th minute, perfectly placing the ball in the upper-left corner of the net from 25 yards out. It was her second career goal, both were long set pieces to tie a game late in regulation.
Reynolds would strike again in overtime at Binghamton, with the final America East playoff spot on the line; Reynolds scored her fourth goal of the season on a rebound off the cross bar to keep the Wildcats’ playoff streak alive.
In each year of head coach Steve Welham’s tenure, the Wildcats have played in the America East tournament, now on a five-year stretch. Welham’s first season was the Wildcats’ first ever tournament championship, getting the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. In the years following, the Wildcats have been to the Quarterfinals and Semifinals of the America East tournament twice.
The Wildcats are a tough team to beat in post season, as the last three years have shown that the team that beats UNH in the playoffs goes on to win the Championship. Albany 2016 (Semi-Finals 0-1), Stony Brook 2017 (Semi-Finals 0-1) and 2018 Albany (Quarter-Finals 0-1).
The Wildcats faced the defending 2017 America East tournament champion Stony Brook Seawolves late in the season with key conference points on the line. Stony Brook came into Wildcat Stadium winning their last four matchups against the Wildcats, but a lone goal from Liz Lane (Porter, Maine) and a shutout from graduate student Mia Neas (Old Saybrook, Conn.) snapped that Stony Brook winning streak and notched UNH’s first win over Stony Brook since 2014.
Stony Brook game was the match up of the 2017 America East semifinal match which saw the post season champions (Stony Brook) and regular season champions (UNH) go at it. This game ultimately proved costly for the Wildcats, however, as they lost two key starters for the remainder of the season due to injury (Junior Captain and Central Defender – Caitlyn Keenan & Sophomore midfielder Francesca Picicci )
NEAS IN NET
The Wildcats were honored at the 2018 America East end-of-year awards with two All-Conference selections, graduate student Mia Neas and junior Megan Rumbold. Neas was also named to the 2018 All-Academic team for America East with a cumulative GPA of 3.88.
Another Wildcat receiving post-season accolades was Gaby Dorsey (Hubertus, Wisc.) who was named to the America East All-Championship team.
Neas and Dorsey were also selected to the NEWISA Senior Bowl, Neas for the second straight year.
Along with her all-conference academic nod, Neas was also named an All-Region scholar by United Soccer coaches, and was named a Google Cloud All-District first-team member by CoSIDA for the second straight year. Neas was also voted the 2018 America East fan's choice player of the year for women's soccer.