GW closed its weekend with 24 shot attempts, 12 saves from freshman goalkeeper Nicole Fasano and the first two victories of its season.
The Colonials picked up momentum from their first victory, a 1-0 win over Columbia Saturday. And they carried that drive through to Monday’s match against Cornell, remaining strong enough to post a 3-2 victory over the Big Red on Labor Day.
After opening the season with two straight losses, GW focused on studying its Ivy League opponents’ play to prepare for the holiday weekend homestand.
“We had a sense of how they play – their style,” head coach Sarah Barnes said. “So obviously that helps in terms of organizing the team. But honestly, I think the result was more of a function of just having a month now under our belts to get more prepared.”
In the opening game of the weekend against Columbia, it was clear both teams were bringing a focused battle to the pitch. With 41 minutes left in regulation, senior forward Adriana Moya headed her first shot attempt of the game off of the right goal post, just missing the back of the net. Her shot marked the beginning of several attempts for GW as it looked to find its first victory of the season.
The Colonials entered the second half with a renewed intensity and with 26 minutes left junior defender Jane Wallis crossed the ball into the center of the box, linking up with junior Alex Neal. Neal laced a shot into the net, scoring her first goal of the season and the lone goal of the game.
Neal, ranked second on the team with 32 shots last season, said she and her teammates entered the weekend with a singular objective: maintaining a solid effort throughout all 90 minutes of play.
“Our mindset was definitely to get our first win and battle through all 90 minutes without giving up any goals,” Neal said. “I think there were moments we struggled, but we controlled the tempo of [Saturday’s] game more so then we have in any other game.”
The Lions attempted a comeback with increased speed through the end of play, but Fasano, in her second career start, nabbed two timely saves to preserve GW’s victory.
The Colonials returned to the field Monday seeking a second victory against another Ivy League opponent, facing Cornell in the second half of the homestand.
After 38 minutes of aggressive play, the Big Red’s Jayann Gabrio buried an unassisted free kick into the right side of the net to put her team up by one. But within the first minute of the second half, GW was able to respond, with freshman midfielder Kristi Abbate lacing a pass to fellow freshman Amanda Gaggioli, who found the back of the net for the Colonials’ first score of the game.
“I think Amanda Gaggioli did a great job,” Barnes said. “She was playing great earlier on, was really sick for the first couple weeks but stepped up really big today.”
Neal kept the Colonials’ momentum high for the second game of the weekend, scoring her second goal of the weekend and putting GW up by one with 29 minutes left in play.
But Cornell did not go down without a fight, and continued to rocket shots into the net. Fasano remained unruffled, even after conceding the tying goal.
“We had to come together as a team, and we knew we could do it,” Fasano said. “From the back up, it was communication, and we had to get composed.”
And the Colonials sealed the game’s result in the 86th minute, when sophomore Meg Murphy zipped a shot into the left side of the net, tallying the final 3-2 score.
It was a fitting cap to GW’s victorious weekend – one that Barnes touted as a team-wide effort.
“Everyone stepped up. There was not one kid out there who didn’t do their part today,” Barnes said.
This article was updated Sept. 4, 2012 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Meg Murphy's first name is Megan. Her name is actually Margaret Murphy.