The Colonials hoped their opening weekend of A-10 play would mirror their decisive victory over District-rival Howard the week before, a shutout win that seemed to give GW valuable momentum heading into league competition.
Instead, it was the exact opposite: back-to-back shutouts, this time with the Colonials on the losing end. They dropped 2-0 games to both Richmond, Friday, and conference newcomer VCU Sunday. And in both, head coach Sarah Barnes said, the key piece lacking from the team’s play was its offensive rhythm.
“At the end of the day, the bottom line for us is we have to do a better job at connecting passes so we can be more dangerous in attack,” Barnes said. “We’ve got to be able to keep the ball better.”
As Richmond fired shots to open play Friday, GW stayed solid on defense, led by freshman goalkeeper Shannon Murphy, who nabbed an early save after a Spiders corner kick. The Colonials battled with Richmond for the
first 45 minutes of play, but the half ended without either team finding the back of the net. They headed into the break scoreless.
But Richmond broke the deadlock early in the second, scoring with a header off of a free kick. In response, the Colonials’ aggressive nature increased, but they couldn’t get their shots to stay accurate. And in the 68th minute, the Spiders solidified their win with a shot fired 35 yards away from the net that would prove to be the final score of the game.
Freshman midfielder Kristi Abbate, who played significant minutes the entire weekend, said the momentum changed once the first goal was scored, but the Colonials never quit on the field.
“Our work ethic is really strong. We never gave up. I don’t even think ’til the last minute we stopped trying. People were still slide tackling,” Abbate said.
The Colonials returned to the pitch Sunday, seeking to secure their first A-10 win in a contest against VCU. But the Rams netted a goal off of a corner kick at the 11th minute of play in the first, forcing GW to play catch-up for the rest of the game.
The Colonials ended the half with only three shot attempts, seeking to establish the offensive rhythm emphasized in conversations leading up to the game.
“We really wanted to attack hard and make sure we had good pressure on the ball. We had high confidence going into this game,” Murphy said.
The Rams entered the second half with a bang, tallying two shot attempts quickly within the first five minutes of play. With 21 minutes left in the game, junior Alex Neal crossed the ball towards senior Adriana Moya, seeking to put the Colonials on the board, but a Rams defender dove in front of the pass, halting its path. VCU’s score in the 82nd minute of play sealed its victory, marking the second straight shutout loss for GW.
But Barnes emphasized the need to take the season game-by-game, a caution against hitting the panic button after a disappointing opening to A-10 play.
“I think this is a process. There are little things we do better each game,” Barnes said. “We just need to be more consistent overall.”