ALBANY, N.Y. – For the first time since 2011, the America East has back-to-back champions as the UAlbany Great Danes defeated the Hartford Hawks, 2-1, in the conference title game on Sunday night at Tom and Mary Casey Stadium in Albany, N.Y.
Albany, who won their second title in program history, earns the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Great Danes (11-7-1) will learn their NCAA draw during the NCAA selection show Monday at 4:30 PM ET on NCAA.com.
For the second-straight year in the title game, the Great Danes fell behind against Hartford. The Hawks opened the scoring in the 23rd minute as Caitlin Smallfield finished a header off a corner kick from Julia Carr.
Albany responded just before the half when Gina Bracamonte served a ball into the box to Kiana Rugar, who beat the keeper to the right side of the net to tie the game at one.
Bracamonte also setup the eventual game-winner, finding Vivian Vega in front of the net in the 76th minute to give Albany a 2-1 lead.
Albany’s Caitlyn Paltsios was named the championship’s Most Outstanding Player and was joined on the All-Championship Team by teammates Vivan Vega, Kiana Rugar and Mariah Williams. Hartford’s Caitlin Smallfield, Aaliyah Ingram and Hayley Nolan, New Hampshire’s Mimi Borkan and Lilly Radack, Vermont’s Caitie Green and Coco Speckmaier, Stony Brook Hannah Groth and Maine’s Kendra Ridley also earned spots.
Hartford’s Katie Connolly earned the America East Elite 17 women’s soccer honor for having the highest GPA among student-athletes participating in the championship game.