Despite Loyola Maryland scoring on its own goal in the first half, the women’s soccer team could not push across a goal of its own, finishing in a 1-1 tie against the Greyhounds on Tuesday.
Not including the Colonials’ canceled game against William and Mary last week, this was the team’s third straight double-overtime tie.
“Realistically, I think at this point, with three ties, I think we just need to work on finishing,” senior goalkeeper Nicole Ulrick said. “These are the kinds of games that last year we might have let slip through our fingers. So we’ve been pretty tight defensively, not losing focus or letting chances come up with goals.”
Early on though, it seemed as if the Colonials’ (2-2-3) return to the Mount Vernon Campus after four straight road games had brought them some luck. In the 18th minute, after a free kick by junior Elizabeth Casey was stopped by a defender, the ball bounced around the box to the confusion of just about everyone and resulted in a Loyola (1-6-2) player accidentally kicking the ball backwards into her own net.
For the rest of the game, the Colonials greatest struggle of the season – scoring – resurfaced. Although they significantly outshot Loyola by 19-8, the Colonials could not convert any of their five shots on goal.
“We have to do a better job of having good composure. I think that’s the bottom line. Is it youth? I think for some of them, yes,” head coach Sarah Barnes said. “But in general, if we’re composed, we take our time, we pick our head up and look, you have the time to pass the ball into the goal.”
Even though GW was unsuccessful in finding the back of the net, the team maintained its 1-0 lead deep into the second half. When her team came out in the second half, Barnes said, they looked to continue to be aggressive while keeping a controlled passing game.
GW had every opportunity to score a second goal, holding possession for the majority of the game. When they did get in the box, which was fairly often, the Colonials could not convert. Sophomore Kristi Abbate wowed the attack with skillful footwork and solid touch passes, all on her way to a team-leading two shots on goal with three total shots.
“Maybe I had some nice passes here and there, but it didn’t really matter because it comes down to finishing,” Abbate said.
A lapse in the defense, though, resulted in the Greyhounds finding a week spot at the left side of the net and wrapping a shot right inside the left post.
“In hindsight, I wish I came out and just went for her instead of setting, hoping that I’d get the shot, but it happened. I think what was more disappointing isn’t the goal, it’s that we had so many opportunities to come back and we just couldn’t put anything away,” Ulrick said.
A crucial moment of the game came with 35 seconds to go in regulation when senior Melanie Keer passed to junior Alex Brothers, who then quickly found Abbate past midfield. Abbate turned one defender and crossed another, leaving her with a fairly open left side of the box to strike the winning goal. A blind-sided trip from behind, though – uncalled by the referee, to dismay of the Colonials – ended the threat.
The missed opportunity reassured Abbate of her need to start finding the net for her team.
“Just put my head down and strike the ball. I have to stop staring at where the goalie is because I think it’s starting to throw me off. I’m in my own head right now; the coaches tell me all the time. I’ll be out here tomorrow morning, working on my shot, because I need to.” Abbate said.
Neither team could find a rhythm in either overtime period, as the uptempo pace by both teams tapered the other from taking a shot. In the final 10-minute period, GW had a few more chances, including a cross from the right corner that passed in front of the goal line, but no one was there to finish it.
“They got one chance, and had the composure to finish, and we had 19 chances, and we didn’t have the composure to finish. So that’s disappointing,” Barnes said.
The Colonials were short one: Junior Nicole Belfonti sat out the game after not practicing all week due to a cold, Barnes said. She said she is expected to play against Howard on Friday – the team’s final game before Atlantic 10 conference play starts Oct. 4.
“We just really need to clean up shooting and just finishing. If we have 10 shots, we need to put one away,” Ulrick said. “Ties are better than losses, but its starting to feel like we need to win.”