The Central Connecticut women's soccer team won its seventh Northeast Conference Championship on Sunday with a 1-0 victory over top-seeded Long Island at the Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn, NY. Junior Leah Blayney scored the game's lone goal. Sophomore Abby Graham assisted on the play. The Blue Devils have now won five of the last seven NEC titles dating back to the 2002 season. With the win, CCSU advances to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005. The victory also marked the 100th career victory for head coach Mick D'Arcy. Central Connecticut is now 12-6-4 overall this season.
The two squads played to a scoreless first half, with the Blackbirds holding a 4-2 advantage in shots. Each team had one shot on goal in the period but neither had a true scoring opportunity.
Central Connecticut took the 1-0 lead early in the second half. Blayney received a pass off the foot of Graham from midfield down the right side. When the goalkeeper came out of the crease, Blayney beat her to the left side of the goal to give CCSU a 1-0 advantage at the 51:58 mark.
Senior goalkeeper Erin Herd made two saves to preserve the shutout, her eighth, and team's 12th, of the season. Her biggest stop came with 14:07 remaining in the game. The Coffs Harbour, Australia native punched a direct kick shot over the crossbar. Herd was named the tournament's MVP. She joined senior Jill Kusek, sophomore Lauren Salvia and freshman Brittany Jackson on the All-Tournament team.
Long Island, which had defeated the Blue Devils earlier this season 1-0 on the campus of LIU, finished the game with a 10-9 edge in shots. They also had a 9-2 advantage in corner kicks.
D'Arcy, already the winningest coach in CCSU women's soccer history, notched his 100th career victory with the win. In his ninth season as the head coach of the Blue Devils, D'Arcy is now 100-68-14 in his career. His team's have now won five NEC Championships in his nine season and posted five seasons with at least 11 wins. D'Arcy's Blue Devils have finished below .500 only once since 2002.
CCSU will now wait for word on who they play in the NCAA Tournament. The selection show will air on ESPNEWS at approximately 8 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 10.