When the Colonials walked away from Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Rhode Island, three collegiate soccer careers were also coming to a disappointing end.
GW (5-12-2) lost both of its games this weekend 2-0, falling to Massachusetts Friday and the Rams Sunday, and failing to qualify for the A-10 tournament for the ninth-straight season.
Three senior captains ended their careers in Colonial uniforms: goalkeeper Lindsey Rowe, midfielder Sierra Smidinger and midfielder Taryn Dietrich. The impact that all three leave on the women’s soccer program is hard to under-emphasize, head coach Tanya Vogel said.
“We try to raise good leaders, but Lindsey and Taryn and Sierra leave big shoes to fill,” Vogel said. “You don’t make up for losing players like that. They are the epitome of GW soccer in terms of strength and character.”
In both losses this weekend, the Colonials went into halftime with the score knotted at zero, and then allowed goals early in the second half. Friday, after GW posted a 6-4 shot advantage in the first half, Massachusetts converted a free kick in the 62nd minute.
Massachusetts followed up its score with an insurance goal with just over eight minutes left in play, and despite getting off seven shots in the second half, GW was unable to answer the two-goal hole. Rowe posted four saves on the loss, indicative of a trend of her strong performance over the season.
“I attribute much of our success this year to Lindsey in goal and our back four,” Vogel said. “We scored two goals total in conference play. When you only score two goals in conference, even with a strong defense, you are not going to win many games.”
The Colonials again entered play after the break on Sunday with the score tied at zero. Rhode Island posted a narrow 5-4 shot advantage over the first half, and Rowe netted two saves to keep the game scoreless.
Early in the second, Rowe was screened by a GW player, leaving the goal wide open for an easy Rams goal. Rhode Island followed up less than ten minutes later, maintaining a strong offensive attack to net another goal en route to the final 2-0 tally.
“We made a defensive mistake at the beginning of the second half,” Vogel said. “Next season we have to work on scoring early so if a mistake like that happens it doesn’t have such a huge impact on the game.”
After failing to qualify for the A-10 tournament, Vogel said her team is already turning its sights towards next season. The leadership will come from GW’s current juniors, but Vogel will look to this year’s rookies to provide offensive firepower next season. Freshmen Taylor Katz and Meg Murphy had “many learning experiences this season,” Vogel said, and she plans to push them to step up play physically and mentally next year. Already, Murphy showed significant improvement over the 2011 season, fine-tuning her shot and ball handling skills over play.
No less important is the need for the juniors to step into the leadership roles left behind by the graduating seniors. As she left Mount Vernon Field for the last time, Dietrich reflected on the players that would be filling her shoes next year, confident in their abilities to assume the role.
“Although we didn’t achieve the goal we want in the A-10, I know that the team next year is going to be even better and be able to come out and get to the tournament for us,” Dietrich said. “Our junior class is huge. There are five of them, and they are really good at being leaders on the field.”