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Howard women’s soccer defends “Real HU” title in Hampton blowout

Howard women’s soccer team leaves victorious against their rival team, the Hampton Pirates.

Samone Knight passes the ball to her teammate Marli Berry. Knight is a transfer student coming from West Virginia University. Now a junior at Howard, Knight plays defense for the women’s soccer team. Berry, a senior biology major from Orangevale, CA, is a midfielder and hopes to become a doctor of medicine someday. (Armani Durham/The Hilltop)

The women’s soccer team dominated the field during their recent match against Hampton University, with a winning score of 7-0.

The Bison were set on showing Hampton who the real HU was. With swift footwork and clean transitions, the Pirates were unable to keep up with the agility of the Bison.

The proximity of these two well-known HBCUs has caused tension since their first meeting in 1908 and continues to draw extreme emotions from students and faculty attending these schools today.

The last time the Bison played the Pirates was last year, but unfortunately, the game was rained out. The previous year, the Bison came out victorious with a score of 3-1, but an altercation between the two teams occurred halfway through the game. With the historic rivalry and recent tension building between the two teams, this game was expected to be special.

The match began with Hampton winning the coin toss, choosing to have kickoff first. Even though Howard did not win the coin toss, within the first seven minutes of the first half, #4 forward Melea Earley, scored a goal gliding effortlessly around Hampton’s defenders to position herself for the score. In the next four minutes, Earley would score again, showing the Pirates that their defense would need to adjust to stop her trajectory. 

As the half continued, Hampton tried their best to get some points on the board, but goalkeeper Trinity Knox’s fast reflexes and spot-on predictions stopped the several attempts that were made.

The first half closed with #10 midfielder Nyla Allen scoring a goal within the last three minutes.

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The Bison ended the exhilarating first half with a 3-0 lead. There were several collisions because of Hampton’s playing style for which Howard would have to account for going into the final half.

Ellis Pierre, the assistant coach of the Howard women’s soccer team, described the way Hampton played stating, “…they’re very physical. They’re very aggressive.”

Pierre then expressed, “We just want to calm things down and play the way we play, which is keeping the ball and moving it around.”

Coming out of halftime, the Bison were ready to finish the game even stronger than they started it. Once again, within minutes of the half, a goal was scored by Howard, with #12 defense Bre’Elle Dean assisting #8 midfielder Marli Berry, who scored the goal.

Even with Howard’s efforts, Hampton continued with their rough play causing several more falls and collisions from players on both teams. 

At one point, the Pirates’ defense was strong, with their goalkeeper catching multiple scoring attempts made by Howard. The Bison did not let this discourage them and continued to move the ball around the opposing team’s players, leading to them scoring two more goals.

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The seemingly strategic play of the Bison frustrated the Pirates, which was evident by their displeased body language toward the Bison players and referees.

Within the last minute of the game, both teams neared Hampton’s goal, and #11 forward Saliyah Brady passed #23 forward Alauna Rutland the ball as she stood feet away from the goal. Rutland scored with the crowd cheering and Bison players jumping off the bench, running to their teammates on the field with open arms.

Brent Leiba, the head coach of the women’s soccer team, detailed this moment stating, “That last goal that we scored really was the icing on the cake. Beautiful decisions, beautiful build-up, beautiful transition, smart ball movement, just simple finish.”

The women’s soccer team made the university proud with their keen decision-making and hunger to win. With Hampton not being able to score once throughout the entire game, the Bison made it evident to the Pirates that they would not back down.

“We wanted to protect our home turf and we wanted to show Hampton who the real HU was,” stated Team Captain Melea Earley, a junior environmental studies major and psychology minor, from Los Angeles.

Copy edited by Diamond Hamm

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