Paul Smith’s women’s soccer blanks Panthers

Paul Smith’s College’s Micaela Diller, left, and Grace Kronick celebrate after a goal in the first half of Friday’s home contest against Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. (Provided photo — Mercedes Rideout/Paul Smith’s College)

PAUL SMITHS — The Paul Smith’s College women’s soccer team defeated the reigning United States Collegiate Athletic Association Division II National Champions, the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Panthers, 7-0 at home this past weekend.

The win was the largest defeat the Panthers have had in their time in the USCAA. The Bobcats are all too familiar with blowout wins this season, having beaten their previous three Yankee Small College Conference opponents by a combined score of 20-1. The Bobcats are currently ranked as the top team in their conference and will likely be one of the top teams in the nation.

“Our team had a lot of emotions going into this game with one of our top rivals,” Paul Smith’s College women’s soccer coach Bailey Walton said. “We played with a ton of heart and had a lot of fun with our offense.”

The Bobcats were led by Alana Cunningham, who recorded her first career hat trick. Hayleigh Gates, Grace Kronick, Katrien Roefs and Leah Coulombe each scored one goal in the win.

“Alana had a phenomenal hat trick tonight,” Walton said. “It’s been great to see her perform so well as a first-year student-athlete for us. She plays incredibly unselfishly and has terrific game IQ.”

Paul Smith’s College’s Alana Cunningham makes a play during Friday’s home contest. (Provided photo — Mercedes Rideout/Paul Smith’s College)

Around 12 minutes into the game, Gates, of West Winfield, blasted a shot inside the near post from the corner to put Paul Smith’s up 1-0. The goal was set up by Nat Ross of Springfield, Virginia on a foot-to-foot pass.

A few minutes later Gates burnt two defenders on her way to the net and slotted the ball to the penalty area where Kronick, of Cheshire, Massachussets, knocked it in.

Leading 2-0, Gates recorded her second assist and third point of the game after Cunningham, of Norfolk, Virginia torched the Panthers’ defense before smashing the ball into the near side upper-ninety.

Just five minutes later, the Panthers would concede an own goal as Leah Coulombe of Jay sent a dangerous cross into the box to make it 4-0 heading to the half.

Paul Smith’s picked up where it left off in the second half, with Roefs, of Bainbridge, tucking a shot past the opposing team’s goalie. Cunningham picked up an assist on the play to make the score 5-0.

Cunningham netted her second goal of the game around 20 seconds later when Kronick sent the ball to the freshman striker who outpaced the defender and touched it by the Panther goalkeeper. Cunningham completed the hat trick in the 79th minute after launching the ball over the Panthers’ goalkeeper to close the scoring.

The Bobcats’ senior captain, Kronick, said there’s nothing quite like the feeling of leading the team to victory against the defending national champions, with a home crowd cheering them on.

“It’s an electrifying experience that fills me with immense pride and joy and it’s a testament to our hard work, dedication, and the unwavering support of our community,” she said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our team.”

Peyton Hoffman of Ilion earned her third shutout in as many games, locking up the back end with 11 saves. The defensive group of Ross, Jamey Roy of Anchorage, Alaska, Keeley VanValKenburgh of Gilboa, Haven Bradt of Berea, Ohio and Abigail Bateman of Edmeston were also outstanding once again. The core group has allowed only two goals in six games this season.

The Bobcats will travel to Southern Maine Community College next weekend where they’ll take on the SeaWolves in a YSCC matchup at noon on Saturday.


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