CHARLESTON, W. Va. - The Daemen College women's soccer team had their second straight United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) National Championship snatched out from underneath them as the University of Maine-Fort Kent - the tournament's No. 1 seed - downed the Wildcats 3-2 in overtime today at the Trace Fork Soccer Complex.
Ariane Laberge netted the game-winner for UMFK at the 95:47 mark after the two teams went the full 90:00 of regulation time tied at 2-2. It was the second straight year that the USCAA National Championship was decided in overtime between Daemen and UMFK. Daemen defeated the Lady Bengals last year 1-0 on a Kim Obermeier (Depew, N.Y./Depew) goal in the 96th minute.
Laberge's winning tally came after the Lady Bengals erased a 2-1 Daemen lead.
Katherine Ferland put the Lady Bengals on the board first with her 28th goal of the season off a feed from Laberge in the 38th minute.
But, Daemen responded quickly with senior Samantha Engel (Dryden, N.Y./Dryden) struck a free kick into the box, finding a streaking Meghan Lipinoga (North Tonawanda, N.Y./Canisius College) who headed the ball past UMFK goalkeeper Kimika Forbes. Lipinoga's fifth goal of the season, and third of the USCAA tournament, knotted the score at 1-apiece.
Then, Engel found freshman Leah May (Palmyra, N.Y./Palmyra-Macedon) all alone in front of the net for the go-ahead tally in the 73rd minute. Engel shook past a couple UMFK defenders along the left sideline and sent a pass into the box where it found May with no one within 15 yards of her, and the greenhorn tapped it past Forbes, putting Daemen 17 minutes away from repeating as USCAA national champs. It was an opportune time for May's first career goal.
But, Marie Montagne got the equalizer for UMFK at the 85:34 mark, shocking the Daemen faithful in attendance. Montagne danced around Daemen defenders along the left endline, broke into the middle of the box and sent a shot to the back of the net, setting the stage for Laberge's overtime winner.
Daemen goalkeeper Juli Prentice (Dryden, N.Y./Dryden) made an initial save on a shot from UMFK's Brianna Mills, but the rebound popped in front of the goal where Laberge swooped in, winning the race to the ball, and beating a helpless Prentice who could not scramble back into position to make a second save on the play.
With starting goalkeeper Kathryn Haessner (Moravia, N.Y./Moravia) still nursing an injury, Prentice drew her second consecutive start between the pipes - her first two starts in net since the 2011 season - and played well, making five saves despite taking the loss. Forbes, a First Team USCAA All-America pick, made seven stops to earn the win for UMFK.
With the loss, Daemen ends their season at 10-10-0 while UMFK improved to 17-1-1 while campturing their third USCAA title in the last four seasons.
"I'm real proud of the way this team has come together throughout the season, and of the effort they gave today," said Daemen head coach Dan Dolan. "It hasn't been an easy ride this year. We've been adjusting to a new conference and a new level of play, but we accomplished our goal of getting back into the USCAA tournament and we had a chance to defend our title. We were just a little unlucky and they made one more play than we did today."
The loss was just Daemen's third when scoring two or more goals since the start of the 2010 season (40-3-1 in those contests). It also snapped the Wildcats' two-game winning streak in the all-time series against UMFK. In addition to Daemen's 1-0 win in last year's title game, the Wildcats scored a 2-0 shutout of the Lady Bengals earlier this year (Sept. 7) at Dimp Wagner Stadium. UMFK is now 49-2-2 over the past three seasons with both losses coming to Daemen.
It was also Daemen's fist loss of the season against a USCAA opponent (6-1-0), snapping their 11-game winning streak in such meetings.
Ferland, who was named the USCAA National Championships Most Valuable Player, broke a scoring drought that had reached 277:56 for UMFK in games against Daemen, dating back to the Lady Bengals' 1-0 win over Daemen on Sept. 30, 2012.
For Daemen, Engel, Lipinoga and senior forward Kacey Bougard (East Aurora, N.Y./Sacred Heart) were named the all-tournament team.
Dolan took a minute to single out his five seniors - Engel, Bougard, Rachel Reichart (Marilla, N.Y./Iroquois Central), Nicole Brokaw (Freeville, N.Y./Dryden) and Alexa Amato(Grand Island, N.Y./Grand Island).
"I couldn't be happier to have been able to be around that group over the last couple years," Dolan said. "They've all played an integral role in the rise of our program to new levels of success."
Amato, the team's M.V.P. last season, was hampered by injuries all year and missed the entire USCAA tournament, as did starting center back Hannah Fraser (Milton, Vt./Milton) - a staple of the Daemen back line over the last three seasons.
With two assists today, Engel ends her storybook career with 105 points (36 goals, 33 assists) in 76 games played.