The Colonials never backed down against a strong Denver team, but they couldn’t compete with the Pioneers’ firepower Friday afternoon. GW ultimately fell to the Pioneers 17-6.
The team struggled at the net from the start. Just 40 seconds into the game, a Denver foul gave Colonial senior Nicole Lacey a free position attempt and a chance to strike first. Denver goalie Hannah Hook saved the shot, however, and the Pioneers rushed back down the field to net the first score of the game less than a minute later.
The Colonials answered with a strong offensive front. Fluid movement and coordinated passing allowed them to take the next four shots of the game, but they missed each time.
“Our attack moved better together today, but it really came down to our shots. We need to take that one extra second, throw a fake in there and get around [the goalie],” sophomore midfielder Rachel Mia said.
GW did score eventually, and with 23 minutes and 24 seconds to go in the first half, Mia tied the game with her eighth goal of the season.
But the defense could not hold the tie. The Colonials couldn’t stop the Pioneers’ fast and aggressive play, and ultimately gave up eight unanswered points. Head coach Tara Hannaford blamed the team’s level of communication.
“Defensively, we didn’t work together as well as I would have liked,” she said.
Lacey whipped in an unassisted goal with five minutes and 44 seconds remaining, but the Colonials’ scoring offense remained otherwise anemic throughout the first half. GW shot the ball 11 times, but scored only twice.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” Hannaford said.
GW’s defense looked stronger as the half came to a close – dislodging multiple balls from the sticks of Denver attackers as they drove to the net – but ceded an 11th goal just 16 seconds before halftime.
The Colonials came into the second half with renewed energy. Mia said it didn’t feel like the team was behind, a sentiment echoed by Hannaford.
“I think we thought we were still in it, if we played our kind of lacrosse,” Hannaford said. “We believe that we can win any game until the last second.”
The will to win showed. Denver won the draw-control battle to start the period and quickly gave the ball to junior Jenn Etzel, the game’s leading scorer. Colonial freshman midfielder Olivia Boudreau then caused a turnover and got her team the ball back. GW seemed determined to score, recovering ground balls until sophomore midfielder Jamie Bumgardner drove one, unassisted, straight to the back of the Denver net with 28 minutes to go.
But the defense could not maintain that momentum. Denver scored the next four points, making the score 15-3 in its favor with 15 minutes and 48 seconds remaining in the game.
Responding, Mia connected with junior midfielder Lindsey DiAntonio for a goal. Bumgardner followed with another of her own, but it was too late. Denver scored twice more before DiAntonio could net a final point, and then the game was over.
Hannaford said her team will look to improve defensive coordination and shooting in practice this week. The Colonials have until Wednesday to prepare for their next game against George Mason.
“We definitely are going to focus on working together,” sophomore goalkeeper Mackenzie Jones said. “For me, [I’ll] definitely [be] continuing to communicate with my defense.”