Kim Warner’s last minute shot was rolling towards Rhode Island’s empty goal, inches away from tying the game and giving the Colonials an opportunity to force the game into overtime Friday. A win in this game would send GW to its first Atlantic 10 tournament championship since 1997.
But Rhode Island defender Kelly Irvin reached the ball in time to kick it out of bounds and save the win for the Rams. GW could not capitalize on the resulting corner kick and lost the first-round tournament game 1-0 at Dayton’s Baujan Field.
Head Coach Tanya Vogel said despite the loss, the fact her team was in the tournament demonstrated their improvement this season.
“This season has definitely been a success. Every single game we’ve gotten better,” she said. “It makes a statement to the conference that GW is there and we’re good enough to win this thing.”
Vogel said she felt the Colonials, who recorded their most successful season since 1998, were a better team than Rhode Island and fell into some bad luck with scoring finishes.
The Colonials (10-9, 7-5 A-10) lost 6-3 to Rhode Island (15-5-1) in their previous meeting and last game of the regular season Nov. 3, but Vogel said her team was anxious for revenge.
“We played out of our mind,” she said. “Rhode Island was scared to death out there.”
After Friday’s win over the Colonials, the Rams advanced to the championship game where they lost to tournament champions Richmond 3-1.
The Rams grabbed the early lead when midfielder Claire Landon blasted a shot past GW goalkeeper Kelly Paolucci from 15 feet out.
The Rams’ first-half goal only spurred the Colonials’ mad rush to equalize throughout the second half. They shot twice as many times as Rhode Island, launching 10 shots in the second half alone, seven on goal.
But all the Colonials could come up with were near misses, something they had not had trouble with all season, Vogel said.
“We’ve been able to finish well before,” she said. “Kim struck the ball well enough but you start to realize maybe it isn’t our day.”
Before Warner’s miss in the 88th minute, the Colonials’ leading scorer and A-10 Offensive Player of the Year missed when she beat the Rhode Island goalie at the 46-minute mark with a shot wide to the right.
Senior Kimberly Sanders also had an opportunity in the 82nd minute. Freshman midfielder Ashley Squires sent the forward a cross 10 feet in front of the next player only to have Sanders kick in straight in Rhode Island goalie’s Jamie Epperlein’s stomach.
While the Colonials out-shot the Rams, Epperlein had 10 saves on the day to Paolucci’s four.
Though Vogel said her team was successful in just having made it to the tournament, she maintained there is always another level to be reached.
“It’s not good enough,” she said of her team’s early exit from the tournament. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”