Husson University’s women’s soccer team has traditionally been an attack-oriented high-scoring outfit.
The 14-5-1 Eagles aren’t scoring as much as they have in the past, averaging 2.15 goals per game entering Saturday’s North Atlantic Conference championship game at Castleton State (Vt.) against the 15-2-1 Spartans.
But they have evolved into a dominant defensive team and are seeking their fifth straight league title.
Husson will bring a streak of 484 minutes, 59 seconds without allowing a goal into the title game.
They have five consecutive shutouts, including a 0-0 double-overtime tie with Castleton State.
The Eagles haven’t allowed more than two goals in a game and have posted eight shutouts.
Junior goalkeeper Rozlyn Petersen from Newport and Nokomis High School has the league’s lowest goals-against average (0.76) and best save percentage (.856).
“I believe we have one of the best defenders in New England in Caitlyn Butterfield,” said 13-year head coach Keith Bosley. “Janna Clukey is a four-year starter at left back, and Katelyn Cloutier starts off and on on the right side. If she doesn’t start in the back, she starts up front. So we’re very experienced in the back.”
Gorham’s Butterfield and Presque Isle’s Clukey are seniors and New Hampshire native Cloutier is a junior.
Senior striker Megan LaJoie said the Eagles have received exceptional defensive play from Lee junior Amanda Gifford, sophomore Kayleigh Piccirillo and senior Megan Clement from Brunswick.
Gifford and Piccirillo are holding (defensive) midfielders while Clement is an attacking midfielder.
“They have been doing a great job getting back and making sure they’re covering for the backs. And they have been communicating well,” said LaJoie, one of four Husson captains.
“We have re-developed that part of our game,” said Bosley. “Kayleigh and Amanda have really come into their own in the last four, five, six, seven games. They buy time for the defense to allow them to get organized behind the ball.”
Bosley also said he has been “incredibly happy” with the play of the 5-foot-11 Petersen.
“She makes all the basic saves and, once in a while, will make that fantastic save to keep us in the game,” said Bosley. “She communicates well and is very confident now. And everybody has a great deal of faith in her.”
“Roz is very athletic,” said LaJoie. “She can make those diving saves and she’s tall, so she can get the high balls, too.”
Husson has had balanced scoring to complement its defense.
Hampden’s Michelle Manning, a senior striker, leads the team with 10 goals and five assists. Speedy junior midfielder Alex Laniewski and freshman striker Rebecca Jones each have seven goals and three assists and Clement has 3 & 8. LaJoie has scored five goals in an injury-marred season that has seen her miss eight games.
Piccirillo has 2 & 2, and outside midfielder Katie McLaughlin of Winslow, a junior, has three assists.
Sophomore Emily Zurcher of Topsham and New Hampshire freshman Marcy Francoeur come off the bench and supply Bosley with good depth in the midfield.