By Alexis Johns | September 29, 2022
Photo Credit: University at Albany Sports
“We scored first,” transfer freshman Ashley Ladner said after scoring her first career goal for the University at Albany women’s soccer team against America East newcomer Bryant. Though the game ended in a tie of 1-1 more than just a soccer match was happening.
The term “we” rang throughout the Casey Stadium as it was UAlbany’s Spread Respect game. The America East Conference began its second annual Spread Respect initiative to raise awareness to ensure equality and safety for all student-athletes, coaches and fans without regard to one’s race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. An initiative to bring teams closer together and celebrate one another.
“For us it is just another thing we get to celebrate especially within our team we have people of all different backgrounds so it is the ability to honor them which is not that different from every day,” said Head coach Sade Ayinde.
UAlbany came into this game confident and strong after securing two straight conference wins. Bryant, a first year America East Conference team, held their own against the Danes. “We might have underestimated them a little, but we really wanted to come out and set a tone, which we did,” Ladner said.
At minute 8 Ladner scored the Danes first and only goal. Running down the pitch Sophomore Joanna Van Royen found Ladner who was at the 25. Ladner connected with the ball beautifully, curving the ball to the top left corner far from reach for Bryant’s keeper. She said, “I was so happy. Being able to score my first goal here with my favorite people was great. I literally blacked out. I cannot wait to watch it back. I thought my face was going to fall off from smiling.”
In minute 25 Bryant tied it all up. Junior Makayla Griffin made the backdoor run on the far-left post, receiving a perfect cross from Sophomore Emma Pedolzky. Griffin was unmarked and caught UAlbany’s defense off guard. She nailed the ball one touch into the back of the net.
Intensity rose in the Danes. Captain Sahara Zingano had many opportunities to put one in the back of the net, but just could not make it happen. Not to say she did not have a great game. Zingano created countless opportunities for her team by running into spaces and taking defenders with her. She was able to get a cross off at minute 60 despite having to take on three Bryant defenders. Zingano laid the cross off to Ladner who was looking for her second career goal and second goal of the night, though Bryant’s keeper stopped that from becoming a reality.
At minute 51 junior Brooke Pickett scored from in the box on a loose ball, but it was called offsides.
Despite UAlbany dominating possession over Bryant they could not find the back of the net for the rest of the match. “It is just a mentality sometimes like once you are inside the box it’s like hey how do I get something on frame. As we move forward and continue to play the rest of the season it’s about creating these opportunities and how do we make sure they are in the back of the net”, Ayinde said.
UAlbany had a wakeup call at the eighty-sixth minute of the match. A close shot from Bryant in the box made UAlbany’s keeper Megan Hart work to keep the match a tie.
Bryant’s coaching staff and team was uncooperative resulting in no comments from the team.
“It was a good team effort we got a tie and a point. As long as we keep working together and that is what the focus is, is to keep working together,” Ladner said.
Each team received a point in the conference standings. UAlbany still remains undefeated against America East opponents. In just three games they have accumulated seven points. The University at Albany women’s soccer team takes on Maine next away on Oct. 2 at noon.