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Two opposing soccer players compete to head the ball in mid-air

With back-to-back title appearances, Huskies establish themselves as a women’s soccer power

Northeastern senior Alexis Legowski (right) was among the leaders of another outstanding season for women's soccer. Photo by Jim Pierce

With back-to-back appearances in the Colonial Athletic Association women’s soccer championship game, the Huskies continued to establish themselves as a perennial conference power with upside to keep improving.

Northeastern created several chances to win the title game on its home field Saturday before losing, 2-1, to defending champion Hofstra near the end of double overtime. Krista Agostinello put away a crossbar rebound for the visiting Pride (10-7-4) just 90 seconds before the match would have gone to penalty kicks.

It was the Huskies’ second straight 2-1 title game loss to Hofstra, which was a surprise finalist as the No. 8 seed.

“I just told them I didn’t need a championship to know that they were special,” said seventh-year coach Ashley Phillips, who led the Huskies to their last CAA championship in 2016. “That was not the result we wanted and we felt we had the ability to win. It’s gut wrenching, but this has been one of the most amazing groups I’ve ever coached here.”

Inspired by a rowdy Parsons Field crowd on an unusually warm autumn afternoon, the Huskies recovered from Hofstra’s 61st-minute opening goal with a series of urgent runs that culminated in an 80th-minute equalizer. Alexis Legowski’s header converted a free kick by fellow senior Jane Kaull.

“Our senior leadership is something that we’ve never really seen start to finish,” Phillips said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the culture they created.”

Three Huskies made the CAA All-Tournament Team: Legowski, senior Porter Dooley and freshman Vivian Akyirem, who had scored all four of Northeastern’s goals in its two tournament wins against No. 6 Stony Brook (2-1) and No. 2 Drexel (2-0).

Hofstra focused on limiting opportunities for Akyirem, who tied for the CAA lead with 13 goals in her rookie season. She was the most efficient scorer in the conference and Hofstra assigned Anja Suttner to shade toward her everywhere.

“They had three or four chances in that last 10 minutes that—with a little bit more quality from them in the final third—it’s game over,” Hofstra coach Simon Riddiough said after earning his fifth CAA championship in six seasons. “I’m really proud of how they stuck with it against a fantastic crowd and a dominant, aggressive Northeastern team.”

Akyirem challenged with a free kick just outside the arc, then escaped to fire her best chance of the afternoon—right at the goalkeeper.

“Thirteen 13 goals out of a freshman isn’t too shabby,” Phillips said, who then referred to Akyirem’s lone assist this season. “She carries a lot of weight on her shoulders, and if she can learn to rely on some people around her a little bit more, I think she’ll be even more successful.”

Looking ahead, Phillips expressed gratitude for the high standard established by this senior class.

“If these younger kids can [follow] what those senior players did this year, we’ll be in a great place going forward,” Phillips said. “We have the talent, and if they can keep the culture and the mentality where it is, we will get ourselves one of those [championships] in the near future.”

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