This is the eleventh in our Top 12 of 2012 series. Every day for the rest of 2012, we will count down the Top 12 moments/games of the year with each program represented. With two Little East Conference Champions, a handful of wins against nationally ranked teams and several program firsts-2012 was quite the year.
November 4, 2012 was the culmination of 18 years for the UMass Boston Women's Soccer program.
In the team's first 10 seasons, the Beacons won approximately one conference game in the highly competitive Little East Conference. It took 14 seasons for the squad to earn their first postseason appearance and in the process ended a 12-year winless streak in conference play. Year 15 saw the program finish with double-digits for the first time, and just a season later the Beacons made their first trip to the Little East Conference Championship Game.
All of the firsts led up to 2012 and a season full of even bigger accomplishments. The 2012 fall campaign included the program's first ever national ranking, their strongest start to a season and their first ever regular season crown, all leading up to November 4, 2012.
Just a day after defeating Keene State College for just the second time in program history, the Beacons found themselves facing off against third-seeded Western Connecticut State in a matchup of upstart versus dynasty.
While the Beacons held the better record, the higher seed and home-field advantage, the Warriors were the only LEC team to defeat UMB in the regular season. Western Connecticut State had dominated the Beacons historically, winning 19 of 20 all-time matchups, including a 1-0 victory in the 2010 Little East Conference Championship Game.
Feeding off the past history and their earlier win, Western Connecticut State controlled the first 25 minutes. Just under 11:30 into the game the Warriors nearly scored the first goal of the game, as Samantha Trayer sent a booming free kick onto the foot of Tracy Sales who was denied by Kristen Spain (Quincy, Mass.) on a one-on-one opportunity.
After their slow start, UMass Boston would settle down and withstand the Warriors pressure, as Western Connecticut dominated the box score with nine shots and six corners in the first stanza.
The two teams traded shots over the first 15 minutes of the second half before some pinpoint passing and a dazzling array of moves by Tayla Andrews (Plymouth, Mass.) gave the Beacons the only goal they would need.
Meghan O'Connell (Abington, Mass.) sent the ball backward to Anna O'Donoghue (Swansea, Mass.) who sent a strong through-ball to Andrews at midfield. The junior forward sent the ball spinning past the last defender and chased it down just outside the goal-box on the far side. After settling the ball, Andrews crossed over the LEC Defensive Player of the Year and rocketed a shot into the back of the net to bring the Beacons within 28:12 of their first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
UMass Boston wouldn't lay off, as the Beacons piled on six of the final 10 shots of the game and just missed out on scoring an insurance goal several times. As the final seconds ticked off, O'Donoghue sent the ball soaring into the blue sky as UMass Boston celebrated their first ever Little East Conference Tournament Championship.
While the Beacons couldn't take down powerhouse Ithaca in the NCAA Tournament, the team graduates just three seniors and should be amongst the favorites in the LEC next year.