Women clinch first A-10 tourney berth in five years

The GW women’s soccer team clinched its first Atlantic 10 playoff berth in five years, shutting out Massachusetts 2-0 Friday to shore up the fourth and final spot in conference rankings. After winning Friday’s clincher, the women lost Sunday’s contest with Rhode Island, the team they will face in the first round of the tournament.

While no one on the current Colonial squad has ever been to the postseason, Vogel said her players are not nervous nor are they shaken by Sunday’s loss to the Rams (14-4-1, 10-1-0 A-10).

“If anything after today, they are more than motivated to beat Rhode Island Friday,” she said. “All my players feel like its not enough just to make it, they are determine to win. We’re not gonna talk about losing on Friday because it is not gonna happen.”

The tourney berth marks the program’s turn around under fourth-year head coach Tanya Vogel, who became the first person to reach the conference tournament as both a player and a coach.

“It feels great,” Vogel said of the Colonials’ (10-8-0, 7-4 A-10) tourney berth. “These girls have worked their tails off all season and they have earned their spots and they are pretty excited about it. The girls have laid the ground work for the future of this program.”

The Colonials secured their spot with behind strong play from freshman goalie Kelly Paolucci, who made nine saves in her third shut out of the season. The freshman, who took over for junior Christine O’Malley midway through the season, averages only 1.52 goals scored against her per game.

Freshman midfielder Ina Kain scored the game winner for the Colonials at the 20:10 mark while Kimberly Sanders’ fifth goal of the season added insurance and tied her with Kain for second place in goals scored behind junior forward Kim Warner.

Conference champions Rhode Island will join the Colonials at the tournament, along with second seed 2001 defending champion Dayton and third-seeded Richmond.

While both teams were already assured a playoff spot, Sunday’s game was still critical for Rhode Island which secured their first A-10 conference title and first seed in the tournament with the win. The game was a high-scoring one, with nine total goals, as one might expect from two teams that have the number one and two scoring leaders in the conference.

Junior forward Kim Warner clinched the conference scoring title with 15 goals on the season in the loss to Rhode Island. Warner beat out Ram freshman Melanie Kasparek, who finished second in the scoring race with 13 goals on the season.

Warner’s final goal came toward the end of Sunday’s loss on a header off of teammate Sander’s cross. Ironically, one minute after Warner’s 15th goal, teammate sophomore Amanda Bednarz scored her first goal of the season. Sanders again had the assist.

“Warner is one of the most talented players at GW and in the A-10, but she’s the first to tell you she’s got a great supporting cast,” Vogel said. “The title is a tribute to her and also the players around her. This team came together as a team, relied upon each other and that’s been the key to this years success.”

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