Over a game that saw a combined total of 24 fouls and five yellow cards, the Colonials proved they wouldn’t back down from physical play.
In the first half of GW’s (5-10-2) play against Richmond, Spiders forward Emily Dale and Colonials midfielder junior Clare Roche battled for a ball that eventually went out of bounds. Then, in a play that was a hallmark of the afternoon’s intense nature, Dale appeared to punch Roche in sight of a referee, but received only a warning for her actions.
Dale’s punch and the perceived lack of reprehension from the referee ignited the crowd, intensifying the play of both teams, but the Colonials were ultimately unable to climb out of a one-goal hole, falling 1-0 to the second place Spiders.
“You can’t control the officials,” head coach Tanya Vogel said. “I was surprised that someone threw a punch and they didn’t get a card. This referee early on proved to be inconsistent.”
At the half, the score was knotted at zero, and Richmond kept the Colonials from netting a goal after halftime with dominant offensive play. The Spiders controlled the second half by maintaining possession of the ball, attempting 11 shots to GW’s six.
The Colonials answered Richmond’s physical play with an equally forceful presence, committing eight fouls and receiving two yellow cards in the second half alone. Senior midfielder Sierra Smidinger earned a yellow card in the 77th minute after she knocked down a Richmond player while going for a header, and junior defender Samie Cloutier received her yellow card after taking down Dale from behind. The physical play might have decreased GW’s chances at victory, but senior goalkeeper Lindsey Rowe said it was important for her team to remain undaunted on the field.
“We show up to every game ready to fight,” Rowe said. “I’m proud of the physicality of our team, and I’m proud for the way that we fought for the game today.”
Amid the focus on the extremely physical play, Rowe posted one of her best games of the season. She had 10 stops in the game and routinely posted narrow saves on shots that seemed destined to hit the back of the net. Rowe shot from all lengths of the goal, stretching to deny the Spiders at the top, right and left sides of the net in one stretch of play alone. Richmond was able to slip a ball past Rowe once, earning the game-winning goal in the 65th minute of play.
The game ended in a 1-0 win for Richmond, with the Colonials unable to mount an offensive attack to answer the Spiders’ score. Vogel wants her team to stop playing “catch-up” as it continues on in Atlantic 10 play, looking to see GW score first and maintain dominant offensive and defensive fronts throughout the game.
“The reason that the ball stays on our side is because that team started to take risks,” Vogel said. “There were goal scoring opportunities in the first half that we didn’t convert. If we want to be successful, our forwards need to help out Lindsey and our backline by getting that early goal.”
The Colonials will finish their regular season next weekend, facing off against Massachusetts Oct. 28 at 3 p.m. and against Rhode Island Oct. 30 at 1 p.m. Both matches are at home on the Mount Vernon Field.
Heartened by GW’s physical play Saturday, Vogel will look for her team to maintain that dominant presence as it seeks a berth in the Atlantic 10 tournament, currently sitting at eighth place after Saturday’s play.
“That’s D-1 soccer. Everybody has their own interpretation, but in every game I played in, that is what it looked like,” Vogel said. “We won’t back down, and we won’t give up.”