Defending MAAC Tournament Champion Siena Women's Soccer begins its quest for the program's third title when the second seeded Saints battle No. 4 seed Quinnipiac in the conference semifinals at Hesse Field on the Great Lawn in West Long Branch, New Jersey at 8 p.m. on ESPN3.
Eddy Occhipinti and Bob Lampinen have the call of the match on ESPN3. The broadcast will be accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and streamed on televisions through Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
In addition to watching the match, follow along by clicking the corresponding MAAC Tournament Central and live stats links at the top of the page. Social media updates will be provided throughout by following @SienaWSoccer on twitter. Join the conversation by using the hashtags #SienaSaints and #MAACSoccer.
For those planning to attend the match, tickets are priced at $10 for adults, and $5 for students, children and senior citizens. Tickets can be purchased in advance by clicking the corresponding link at the top of the page, or in-person at the field.
The winner of tonight's semifinal contest will advance to the MAAC Championship Match Sunday at 3 p.m. in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Tonight's first semifinal pits regular season champion, tournament host and No. 1 seed Monmouth against sixth seeded Marist at 5 p.m. Siena dropped a 4-2 decision to the Hawks in West Long Branch Oct. 12, and recorded a 2-1 overtime triumph over the Red Foxes in Poughkeepsie Sept. 28.
Siena in the MAAC Championships
Record: 9-12-2 (17th Appearance)
Championships: 2 (2010, 2015)
Vs. Quinnipiac: 0-0
The defending MAAC Tournament Champions are making their fourth consecutive MAAC Tournament appearance and 17th overall in their 25th season of conference competition. Siena's Senior Class is the first class in program history to qualify for the MAAC Championships in all four seasons. The Saints have captured the program's first two MAAC Tournament Championships over the previous six seasons, winning their first title as the No. 3 seed in 2010, before going on a Cinderella-like run last November in which Siena became the first-ever No. 6 seed to capture the crown.
Last year, the Saints had to go 3-0-1 over their final four regular season matches - including a must-win on the road at Quinnipiac in the finale - simply to secure the sixth and final MAAC Tournament berth. Siena ultimately reeled off a seven-match unbeaten streak through the MAAC Championship Match, which included victories over the No. 1, 2 and 3-seeds to improbably capture the conference crown. Fairfield's 1997 men's basketball team (eight-seed) and the Stags' 1987 and the Saints' 2002 men's basketball squads (seven-seed) are the only teams in conference history seeded lower than last year's Siena women's soccer team to win a MAAC Tournament Championship.
Siena is 7-2 in MAAC Tournament matches since 2010, after having posted a collective 2-10-2 mark over the program's first 18 seasons in the league. The Saints' seven MAAC Tournament wins since 2010 are by far and away the most of any school, as Rider and Marist are tied for the second most victories over that time with a distant four. Siena is 4-5-2 all-time in MAAC Semifinals matches, and is in search of advancing to the championship match for the fifth time in program history. The Saints previously qualified for the conference final in 1996, 2006, 2010 and 2015.
Siena is in search of its first-ever MAAC Tournament victory as a No. 2 seed, having previously lost to third-seeded Rider in the semifinals in 2004 and seventh seeded Marist in the quarterfinals in 2009. The Saints are a perfect 2-0 in MAAC Tournament matches in West Long Branch, as No. 6 seed Siena upset regular season champion and tournament host Monmouth 2-1 in the semifinals before dispatching second seeded Manhattan 5-2 in the championship match to complete its magical run last fall.
The Series With Quinnipiac (12th Meeting: Siena leads, 7-3-1)
Siena is undefeated all four matches against Quinnipiac (3-0-1) since the Bobcats joined the MAAC for the start of the 2013 season. The Saints hold an eight-match unbeaten streak overall against Quinnipiac (7-0-1), outscoring the Bobcats 13-4 over that time. The programs have met - both as conference and non-conference foes - each of the past eight seasons, but are squaring off for the first time-ever in postseason play.
Siena captured the regular season meeting and clinched their MAAC Tournament berth with a 2-0 win Oct. 19 in Loudonville. The Saints controlled the action throughout, holding decided advantages in both shots (20-8) and corners (13-1). Offensively, Siena received goals from both junior striker Kelsey Horst (22') and senior captain Kristen Connors (50'). Defensively, Siena handed what was at the time the MAAC’s No. 2 scoring offense just its second shutout of the season, as Quinnipiac had entered play ranking tied for 46th nationally averaging 2.0 goals per match. Additionally, the Saints held reigning MAAC Rookie of the Year and the Bobcats’ leading scorer and eventual First Team All-MAAC selection Nadya Gill without a shot.
Scouting Siena (9-6-3, 7-3)
Siena had posted three consecutive shutout victories outscoring the opposition by a combined 8-0 margin, prior to suffering a 1-0 defeat at Canisius in the regular season finale. The Saints are playing for the first time in nine days as a result of earning a bye to the semifinals by virtue of being the No. 2 seed. Siena's seven MAAC Regular Season victories this fall were tied for the most in program history, matching the 2004 squad which finished 7-1-1.
After winning the MAAC Tournament Championship last season, albeit as the No. 6 seed, the Saints were projected to finish second according to the preseason coaches' poll and lived up to the expectations. Siena opened conference play by matching its best start MAAC start in program history at 4-0 (2010), before suffering their first league loss in 363 days with a 1-0 defeat vs. Rider Oct. 8. The Saints had posted an 11-match unbeaten streak against conference foes dating back to last season - including eight straight in regular season action - while outscoring their MAAC opposition 25-8.
For their regular season success, Siena was honored accordingly at the MAAC Postseason Awards Banquet last night. A total of seven Saints were showered with All-League recognition, including a program record-tying three First Team All-MAAC honorees (2004). Senior back Tara Sobierajski headlined Siena's award winners, as she became the first player in program history to be named a three-time First Team All-MAAC selection, and just the second to earn MAAC Defensive Player of the Year honors (Noel Cox - 2004). Sobierajski was joined on the league’s top squad by junior midfielders Michele Tremblay and Madison Vasquez. Connors and freshman goalkeeper Taylor Dorado earned Second Team All-MAAC acclaim, and freshmen Ariel Somple and Hanna Longendyke were named to the MAAC All-Rookie Team.
A Preseason First Team All-MAAC honoree, Sobierajski has quarterbacked a back line for the Saints which ranks second in the conference in goals against average (0.95) and tied for second in shutouts (six). The only Saint to play in all 1,698 minutes this fall, she has appeared in all but three minutes over her brilliant four-year career in which she’s started a program record 81 matches. One of the most versatile two-way center backs in conference history, Sobierajski has also been a consistent offensive weapon and ranks second in the MAAC and 33rd nationally with eight assists this season. She broke the program’s all-time career record for assists on Oct. 12 at Monmouth, and has now totaled 23 for her career.
Offensively, Siena ranks second in the MAAC in scoring (1.67) and tied with Quinnipiac for sixth nationally with a program single-season record 44 assists. Horst leads the scoring with 18 points this fall, while Tremblay and Vasquez have contributed 15 apiece to a balanced attack. Tremblay is a two-time MAAC Offensive Player of the Week (Sept. 12, Sept. 19). Siena's offense has had a flair for the dramatic as well this season, as the "Cardiac Kids" have rallied to score the tying goal three times in the final three minutes of regulation. The Saints have then proceeded to go on and win two of those matches in overtime.
On the defensive side of the field, Sobierajski and Connors in the middle have combined with Longendyke and Amanda Holtzman on the outside to form one of the most formidable back lines in the MAAC. Meanwhile Dorado has emerged in goal where she ranks second in the MAAC in goals against average (0.99), fourth in shutouts (four) and fifth in save percentage (.767), and has posted clean sheets in each of her last three appearances in carrying a shutout streak of 275:32 into the MAAC Tournament.
Siena is under the direction of 18th-year head coach Steve Karbowski who is the winningest coach in program history with 162 career victories to his name. A two-time MAAC Coach of the Year, Karbowski has piloted the Saints to each of the program's MAAC Championships and NCAA Tournament Appearances (2010, 2015), and in his 18 seasons at the helm has guided the program to eight seasons of 10 or more wins and .500 or better records in 12 of the past 14 years.
Scouting Quinnipiac (11-6-1, 6-4)
Quinnipiac's 11 wins are the program's most since 2001, and the Bobcats were a perfect 9-0 at home this season in finishing undefeated in Hamden for the first time in 15 years. However, Quinnipiac was just 2-6-1 away from the friendly confines of QU Soccer Field this season.
After winning just three matches each in both 2013 and 2014, the Bobcats have combined for 19 victories the past two seasons. As a result, Quinnipiac qualified for its conference tournament in a non-automatic qualifying season for the first time in program history this fall. The Bobcats blanked Canisius 3-0 in the MAAC Quarterfinals Saturday, marking the program's first postseason win in 16 years.
Four Quinnipiac players earned All-MAAC honors last night at the conference's awards banquet, as Gill was named a First Team selection, Jess Fontaine earned Second Team recognition, and Kylie Lance and Mackenzie Tibball were tabbed to the All-Rookie squad. Gill is tied for third in the MAAC in scoring with 21 points, while Fontaine ranks tied for fifth with 20 points including a conference-leading 10 assists which ranks 15th nationally.