The GW women’s soccer team that lost its first six games is much different than the team that has won its last five, head coach Michele Rodriguez-Smith said.
“We were sick of losing, that’s the big thing,” she said. “We regained our focus and decided to put everything behind us, put the losses behind us and focus on the A-10.”
The Colonial women (5-6, 3-0 Atlantic 10) have done just that, improving their undefeated conference record with a pair of home victories over Fordham and La Salle this weekend.
GW gave up just one goal in its two matches behind the play of junior Rima Sidhu and freshman Shannon Ashfield. Sidhu has not given up a goal in her last 253 minutes in goal.
The team is back in action next weekend when it plays defending A-10 champion Massachusetts Friday and Rhode Island Sunday.
“We’re going to be fired up (for UMass),” Rodriguez-Smith said. “We’re looking at it as one of the most important matches left on our schedule.”
GW 3, La Salle 0
The Colonial women stretched their winning streak to five games with a 3-0 shutout of La Salle Sunday at South Riding Field.
“We’re playing with a lot more confidence,” Rodriguez-Smith said. “We really felt like we could dominate them going in, and we did.”
GW got on the board in the 23rd minute when senior Lauren Komar found sophomore Lauren Papalia. Rodriguez-Smith said Papalia took on and beat a number of La Salle defenders before putting the ball in the left corner of the net.
GW senior Jane Lea pushed GW’s lead to 2-0 in the 39th minute on a goal assisted by Melissa Schreibstein and Tiffany Williams. La Salle goalie Kaitlin Glass bobbled the ball before Lea converted the score.
The scores by Papalia and Lea were the fourth goals on the season for each player. They are now tied for the team lead in that category.
The Colonial women added an insurance goal in the 70th minute. After a corner kick junior, Katy McQuillin picked up the loose ball in front of the net and scored unassisted to give GW a 3-0 lead.
Sidhu, Ashfield and senior Amy Pederson combined to shutout the Explorers (5-4-1, 1-2 A-10).
GW 2, Fordham 1
When Rodriguez-Smith substituted freshman Angelica Caramanica into Friday’s game against Fordham, she was hoping for an offensive spark.
She got that and more as Caramanica scored both of GW’s goals in a 2-1 double-overtime victory over the Rams at South Riding Field.
“We had a talk with the team on Wednesday about playing with more intensity and to play with fire,” Rodriguez-Smith said. “I was looking for someone to spark the team and that’s exactly what Angelica did.”
Fordham (3-6, 0-2 A-10) tied the game with about 16 minutes left in regulation to force overtime, which the Colonial women dominated.
“We let them back into the game and that just made the whole team angry,” junior Malynda Nichol said. “I wanted to get everyone going, and get (the Rams) on their heels.”
Nichol put pressure on the Rams early in the first overtime with four of GW’s eight overtime shots. GW came close to scoring in the 99th minute with a flurry of shots, two of them by Nichol, just in front of the goal. Fordham defenders made saves on two of the three shots to frustrate GW in the first 15-minute overtime period.
The Colonial women broke through the Fordham defense in the 113th minute. Sonberg lifted a ball high into the air, and Caramanica blasted the ball past Fordham goalie Kim Kasper into the net with 8:16 left in the final overtime period.
“When I saw it go up, I said, `I am getting this ball, there’s nothing getting in my way,’ ” Caramanica said of her second goal of the game.
Fordham tied the game at 1-1 at the 74:12 mark. After GW had trouble clearing the ball from its end, Fordham’s Tarah Healy took a high shot that floated over the outstretched arms of GW goalie Shannon Ashfield and into the left side of the net.
A little more than a minute later, though, Healy had a run-in with a GW player and suffered what was diagnosed at the game as a broken bone in her leg. After Healy was taken off the field, Fordham put on some of its best offensive pressure of the game.
In the 88th minute, GW had gained control of the ball but the referee stopped the game so the emergency medical technicians that had arrived for Healy could cut across the field.
Play resumed, and Fordham had a chance to win the game in regulation. The Rams’ Elizabeth Daddino broke free with the ball on the right side, but GW’s Courtney Wright came from behind and cleared the ball to the right sideline to preserve the 1-1 tie.
The Colonial women took the lead early in the second half on Caramanica’s first goal. Junior Katy McQuillin started the play by feeding the ball to senior Jane Lea in the top right of the goal box. Lea drew two defenders and passed the ball to a cutting Caramanica, who blasted the ball into the lower left corner of the net in the 52nd minute.
GW had several chances to score an insurance goal before Fordham tied the match. In the 67th minute, Nichol had a shot deflected, but Lea collected the ball and put a shot on goal from almost point-blank range that Kasper stopped. GW had four more good scoring chances over the next three minutes but could not score.
“We had many opportunities off of corner kicks and we had endline services all day today, but we just couldn’t put anything in the back of the net,” Rodriguez-Smith said. “That’s going to be the difference as to whether or not we go on to the conference tournament.”