The Colonials’ backs were against the wall.
They were on the verge of losing their third straight match, down only a goal in a tight, frustrating game against District-rival American. And they were playing through heavy rain that delayed the start of the game and came down in sheets throughout most of play, soaking the field, the players and the ball.
But despite those factors, GW came back to play arguably its best second-half of the season, tying the game and remaining strong through double overtime to eventually end in a 1-1 draw.
“We fought really hard. We fought for each other, and we were down, but we came back,” senior midfielder Molly Bruh said. “Our next game is really important, because we lost our last two before tying this one, so we want to go into conference playing well and with a winning attitude. We want to win that game.”
The Colonials (3-4-1) put themselves in an early hole. Freshman goalkeeper Nicole Fasano blocked a shot from American, but was unable to control possession, and the ball ricocheted off Fasano and back into Eagle control.
The team's next shot attempt found the back of the net, and the goal in the 14th minute put GW down 1-0. It set the scene for the Colonials’ third-straight 1-0 defeat, but the team was determined to stave off that result.
“We gave up that goal early and had to come back from that again,” head coach Sarah Barnes said. “We fought hard, and we started to figure out what worked. Then we became dangerous in the second half."
After conservative play in the first half, GW took a decidedly aggressive tack in the second. The Colonials played the ball wider and began playing at a faster pace on offense. In the first half, they managed just two shots on goal, but over the second, they were able to take seven.
GW broke through in the 60th minute after freshman forward Kristi Abbate gathered a long pass, sprinting past the last American defender and forcing the Eagles to tackle her in the box. That gave GW a penalty kick, which Bruh shot into the bottom left corner of the goal to tie the game.
“When you have a little bit of success on offense, you become more ready to attack,” Barnes said “It’s a process, and we are all trying to get better, and better and better, so that we are firing on all cylinders come conference play. This was a step forward today. “
The game was still tied at the end of regulation, but neither team was able to score over two extra periods. GW saw two shots bounce off the crossbar in the first overtime period, but ultimately the Colonials were unable to push the 120-minute marathon match past a tie.
The Colonials’ mentality over the course of the last portion of play belied their attitude as they approach A-10 competition: an excited energy that has its roots in the team’s unwavering focus on the pitch.
“I can’t wait for conference play,” Abbate said. “I think that conference play is going to be similar to now. It’s just that everyone is going to be intense.”
GW’s success in conference play will hinge on the quality of its offense. Players and coaches agree that the Colonials tend to stall on offense in the first half of games before coming alive in the second.
Bringing the post-break mentality to the opening whistle is key for GW’s conference chances, Bruh said.
“I think that we just need to keep a scoring mentality and have it in the first half of games too. Then we will be great,” Bruh said.