Weekend split thwarts women’s soccer team’s playoff hopes

In the last homestand of the season, the GW women’s soccer team needed two wins to be in contention for the Atlantic 10 tournament. Despite the eight seniors on the squad celebrating their last weekend of play in Foggy Bottom, the squad was mathematically eliminated from postseason play. On Friday, the Colonials topped Massachusetts 1-0, but the momentum did not carry over to Sunday when the Colonials fell to Rhode Island 2-1.

Rhode Island 2, GW 1

The pre-game festivities on Sunday saw seniors Anna Handzlik, Kelly Paolucci, Lise Backman, Nicole Cavino, Ina Kain, Erynn Clapp, Audrey Erhorn and Rebecca Schumer all honored for their contributions to the women’s soccer program, as it would be their last game at home in a Colonials uniform.

Junior Shari Taylor scored an opportunistic goal for the Colonials just 13 minutes in, but the Rams would respond later in the half with two goals from Debra Nelson and Amy Lambert.

The first half saw GW come out strong, as they maintained possession and created some quality scoring chances.

One of these chances came just eight minutes in, as junior Ashley Squires found herself on the receiving end of a cross into the box from the right. The Rochester, N.Y., native did not take her good position for granted, and rifled a near post shot off the volley that Rhode Island goalkeeper Ria Carroll saved.

Just five minutes later the Colonials had their reward with Taylor’s fourth goal of the season. It was freshman Keara Mehlert providing the service this time, with a pass that found Taylor in a race with Carroll to get control of the ball. Taylor made it first, touching the ball past Carroll and putting it to the back of the net.

The goal seemed to give momentum to both sides, however, providing a wake-up call to the Rhode Island offense, and motivating GW to double their advantage.

Rhode Island burst into a counter-attack, playing a long pass forward that freshman Dora Larusdottir controlled. She dished it to Nelson at the top of the box in the 15th minute. Nelson’s shot barely crept in under the top of the crossbar, leaving Kelly Paolucci almost no chance at a save.

The Rhode Island attack only grew stronger, eventually taking the lead in the 22nd minute. Lambert took advantage of a GW miscue at the back, scoring Rhode Island’s second goal in an eerily similar fashion to the first.

It seemed that even when they did get a chance, the Colonials failed to take advantage. Kerry Philbin’s 67th minute shot after a nice pass from Pyle was well high of the goal, and it would be the closest the Colonials would come to scoring during the second half.

“I think we’re all sorry it didn’t turn out better for them,” head coach Tanya Vogel said. “We’ve got a tremendous group of nine individuals who worked hard throughout their careers, and they showed a lot of character. We’re proud of them.”

Ehrhorn took the loss in stride, however. “The thing that you’re going to remember from soccer are the friendships you’ve made and all the good times,” she said after the game. “I’ve just had such a great four years here that losing (today) isn’t so bad.”

GW 1, Massachusetts 0

The cold, wet weather could not dampen the spirits of the GW women’s soccer team after a 1-0 win against the University of Massachusetts Minutewomen at the Mount Vernon Campus Complex on Friday. The Colonials were coming off a tough two-overtime loss at Temple and also ended a four-game losing streak.

Exerting a lot of pressure from the tap, the Colonials took the lead on a beautiful crossing pass from Mehlert to classmate Philbin, who headed the ball into the back of the net with five minutes remaining in the first half. Vogel called it the nicest goal of the year.

When asked about the beautiful assist Mehlert stated she was just looking for Philbin, and then Philbin did the rest. Using a new system in the game where Vogel plays five midfielders, she could not have been more pleased with the effort.

“This is definitely one of the biggest wins of the year,” Vogel said. “The new system worked well today due to this constant pinching and pressing of Erynn Clapp and Nicole Cavino who made sure that we continued to exert pressure on UMass and keep the ball in their zone.”

The majority of the first half was played in Massachusetts’ zone as the Colonials fired eight shots at Massachusetts goalkeeper Kristin Walker. Massachusetts did not manage a shot on goal until 11 minutes into the game.

The second half was a different game as the Minutewomen exerted the pressure. If not for GW’s solid defense and Paolucci’s saves, GW’s one goal may not have stood up.

Clapp was an integral part of the tough defense GW played all game. She too enjoyed the new system and is very comfortable in changing methods.

“To keep the pressure up we started with four halfbacks and in the second half when UMass started pressuring us we went back to only playing three,” Clapp said. “All in all it definitely worked to our advantage.”

Massachusetts coach Jim Rudy, a Washington native, also applauded the strong pressure and play of the Colonials.

“They pressured us all game and GW’s midfielders did a great job keeping the ball away from us and in our zone.”

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