Sometimes the best offense really is a good defense.
That old adage rang true for the coaches, players and packed bleachers of fans at the Colonials’ 9-8 victory over the Villanova Wildcats on Saturday. GW struggled to score after the first quarter, but its defense created just enough opportunities to escape with the win.
The game was something of a grudge match, as it was the fourth meeting of the season between the two teams. The Colonials have won all four. The Colonials struck first when freshman center Hannah Cox scored just 47 seconds into the game. Villanova tied it up soon after, but Cox responded on the very next play with a goal from directly in front of the net.
Villanova scored again on a penalty shot, but that is when GW really got to work. Freshman attacker Erin Donoghue, Cox and junior attacker Megan Brolley each scored within a minute. The Wildcats tallied one more goal and the Colonials ended the first quarter with a 5-3 lead.
“Defense definitely feeds the counter, and Megan Brolley is really good at being aware of when to go and watching the shot clock, and when time is running out, she’s going to be up the pool, and then our goalie is really good at feeding those out,” Donoghue said.
The offense slowed down from there. A series of steals began the second quarter and the score remained the same until Donoghue was able to take advantage of a man-up situation with four minutes and 33 seconds left in the half to put the Colonials ahead by three points, their largest lead of the game, with a perfectly aimed goal to the top right corner.
GW’s defense held Villanova to a single goal off of a penalty shot in the second, but that was not the full extent of its contribution.
Focus and coordination during a Villanova possession set up the final goal of the period. Brolley was fed the ball off the counterattack, which allowed her to score off a lob shot that arced over the Villanova goalie and floated into the back of the net.
At the beginning of the third quarter, the Wildcats scored twice in a row in man-up situations. Head coach Scott Reed called a timeout in which he asked his team to step up offensively.
“I told them to start taking advantage of the opportunities they have on the offensive side of things. The defense can only carry you so much and we had to start putting points on the board,” he said.
The offense, however, remained anemic except for a single goal from Donoghue, who scored on a long shot from the right side of the pool with three minutes and 26 seconds to go. The Wildcats could not answer, and the period ended 8-6.
The fourth quarter progressed in similar fashion. Villanova scored two consecutive goals and had the game tied at eight with two minutes and 13 seconds to go. Donoghue again played the role of the offensive spark and rocketed in the winning goal on a top-corner shot with a minute left on the clock.
“I just saw the sweet spot and it worked,” she said. GW controlled the possession for the remainder of the game and walked away with the 9-8 victory.
Reed was happy with his team’s defensive performance – but intends to focus on offensive coordination in practices to come.
“We’re going to have to focus on our offensive flow, learning to work with each other again and learning how to set each other up for some good shooting opportunities because I think we’re a little too one-on-one out there,” he said. u