By Courtney Ott, Sports Editor and Sam Peterson, Senior Staff Writer
The Towson women’s soccer team capped off a historic season after beating Monmouth University 2-1 to secure their first CAA Championship in program history.
“It was a tough game, Monmouth is a tough team and boy did we make that exciting,” head coach Katherine Vettori said. “It’s a testament of us following our scouts and [Melendez] doing her homework. We worked so hard for this and I’m so happy.”
Senior goalkeeper Riley Melendez was awarded the CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player award after making the game-winning save to seal the Tigers’ win. Senior midfielder Phoebe Canoles was essential for the Towson offense, scoring the Tigers’ game-winning goal and assisting on a second.
“[Melendez] has killed it her entire career,” Vettori said. “She’s just been steady in goal and comes up big time. She’s a big-time goalkeeper.”
Canoles, Melendez, senior forward Nia Christopher and senior defender Maja Hansson were all named to the CAA All-Tournament team.
Towson had their first scoring opportunity at the eight-minute mark when the Tigers were awarded a free kick. Cristopher placed the ball in the bottom left corner but Monmouth’s goalkeeper Cassandra Coster was able to make the diving save.
After 15 minutes of play, Monmouth was able to take an early lead. Senior defender Chloe Ferreira found the back of the net with a header through clean passing from the Hawks’ offense.
“How do we get this back to even,” Vettori said when asked about Monmouth’s goal. “Just keep playing and being patient. Just keep playing the way that we play and we stuck to it.”
With 21:25 left in the first half, Christopher sent a shot through Monmouth’s defense and Coster came out of the net. The ball was able to roll past Coster and made its way past the goal line, tying the game at one.
The battle between the Tigers and the Hawks continued throughout the remainder of the half. Both teams had equal opportunities to take the lead throughout the half, with the Tigers taking seven shots and the Hawks taking six.
Both teams had three shots on goal and two saves, but Towson controlled 4% more of ball possession over Monmouth.
The Tigers brick wall defense remained stout against Monmouth, with Melendez making a diving save at the 66-minute mark.
“The defense really locked it down for me,” Melendez said. “They made my job easier, which is always nice and we really play for each other.”
With ten minutes left in the game, the Tigers were able to take their first lead of the game. Hamid sent a through ball to Canoles who found the back of the net.
After a penalty drawn by Monmouth, the Hawks were given a free kick with six seconds left. Monmouth’s Liza Suyda was elected to give the Hawks a chance to tie up the game but Melendez stood firm, making the game-winning save and securing the Tigers championship.
“It’s been the goal since day one,” Vettori said. “It felt very, very far away for quite a while. We’ve been gaining momentum season by season and have worked harder than we have ever worked and made more sacrifices and really committed to this goal.”
The Tigers have now set the program record for wins in a season with a record of 15-2-2.
Towson will now move on to the NCAA tournament where they will compete for the NCAA title. The Tigers matchup will be announced on Nov. 6 at 4 p.m.