Bengals secure fifth straight national women’s soccer crown

The University of Maine at Fort Kent women’s soccer squad captured its fifth consecutive United States Collegiate Athletic Association national title on Monday, in a tightly contested match against Florida National University.

With less than four minutes left in the game played in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Bengal freshman Tolu Oyeniyi booted in the only goal of the match off an assist from Sherifatu Sumaila, the reigning USCAA Player of the Year.

The teams were well matched, with top-seeded UMFK just edging out third ranked Florida National 15-0 in shots on goal. Florida National had four corner kicks and UMFK had three.

The best chance for the Bengals earlier in the match came with about three minutes to go in the first half when Sumalia, a USCAA first team All-American, sent a rocket off her left foot just over the crossbar.

In the second half, UMFK controlled the ball in their offensive third for almost the entire half but couldn’t get the ball in the net.

Then with 3:50 remaining in the match, senior All-American Catherine Bruno won a ball at midfield and delivered it to Sumaila, who made a couple of moves before sending it through to Oyeniyi. The freshman used her left foot to bury the ball in the near, upper corner for the game and title winner.

With about one minute to go, Florida National had a chance to tie it with a free kick that went into the box, but a Conquistador player sent the ball into the side netting.

Keeper Valentina Green made three saves for Fort Kent, as did Florida’s Savannah Laster.

Senior captains Catherine Bruno and Kendra Freund are among the second senior class to depart UMFK with four national championships, according to a press release issued Monday afternoon by UMFK Assistant Athletic Director Tom Bird. The two seniors capped their careers with a record of 75 wins, five losses and three ties, he said.

Oyeniyi was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, while Bruno, Sumaila and fellow senior Gabi Riccadri-Shortt were named to the all-tournament team.

This is the seventh women’s national USCAA title for the Bengals in the last eight years.

It also is the first USCAA title for Coach Larry Simpson, who took over the team  in September.

UMFK earned its way into Monday’s title match with a 5-0 semifinal win on Sunday against Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

On its way to the finals, UMFK also beat Cincinnati Clermont, 4-0, on Saturday and defeated previously unbeaten New Hampshire Technical Institute 5-0 on Thursday.

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