The new Mount Vernon field brought a bit of good luck for the GW women’s soccer team Tuesday, as it won its home opener for the first time since head coach Tanya Vogel arrived as a student in 1992.
The back-and-forth battle with Howard (2-1) resulted in a 4-3 win for the Colonials.
Sophomore Meggan Eckert chased a long ball downfield, faked out Howard’s goalkeeper and scored her first GW career goal to break a 3-3 tie with less than 20 minutes remaining. The Colonials defense remained solid and held off Howard’s offense to notch the win.
Sophomore Kim Warner scored the first goal on GW’s new turf, just three minutes into the match to give the Colonials an early 1-0 lead. Warner took control of the ball near midfield and used her speed to run down the right side uncontested. She finished off the effort with a well-placed shot to the top right corner of Howard’s goal.
Howard tied the score at one, nine minutes in the match, but the Colonials fought back quickly. Using quick ball movement and refined technique, GW produced a goal in the 27th minute when senior midfielder Angelica Caramanica set up a nice ball to junior forward Regina Jeffries. Jeffries put it away, giving GW its second lead of the game.
After another goal by Warner on a one-on-one breakaway with eight minutes left in the first half, it seemed GW had the game under control. But the Bison stormed back in the second half. Back-to-back goals by freshman forward Ranieka Bean tied the game at three.
Both defenses remained nearly impenetrable for the remainder of the second half. GW exhibited nice technical work, but Howard’s speed and aggressiveness helped the team arrive first to the ball in many opportunities.
“Howard’s tough; probably one of the most physical teams we play this year,” Vogel said after the win. “Because they’re quick and fit and aggressive, when you hold onto the ball, you’re gonna get hit. For a lot of people this was a wake-up call. They realize they need to step it up and be able to hit and be hit, and still be able to play calm and collectively.”
But GW remained determined, taking the lead for good with 20 minutes remaining when Eckert beat Howard’s Tamika Anoia to a free ball just beyond the penalty box. She tapped it into the empty net and gave the Colonials the win.
GW’s defense, led by senior captain Jessica Sultzer, remained strong and kept the Colonials in a game that could have easily escaped. Sophomore goalkeeper Christine O’Malley had key saves to help GW’s effort.
“They (the defense) are outstanding,” Vogel said. “They want more than anything to keep the ball out of the back of the net. I don’t think we had one shutout last year, but (this year) they really want to keep it together.”
Vogel said the team is off to a promising start.
“It’s huge to be 1-0. Having the field is awesome, having fans is awesome. We’re pumped,” Vogel said.
GW returns to Mount Vernon Friday for another cross-town match with Georgetown at 4 p.m.