Midway through the second half of the women’s soccer team’s regular season opener Friday against Mount St. Mary’s, the athletic department staff running the PA system at the GW Soccer Field started to get nervous about the game’s score.
The reason? They were running out of songs to play to celebrate Colonial goals.
While it may not have been against the strongest competition, as the Northeast Conference Preseason poll placed the Knights ninth overall, GW burst out of the gate early and coasted to a 6-0 rout of the Mount.
The six goals were their highest goal count in a game since 2006.
The Colonials, who averaged 1.11 goals per game last season, had six different players find the back of the net. The most notable scorer was junior Kristi Abbate who, after a strong freshman campaign, slumped without a goal as a sophomore last season.
Up 1-0 off an early goal from junior forward Kyla Ridley, Abbate sliced through a trio of Mount defenders, tapped the ball to the right corner of the net and ran toward a sea of high fives and hugs. She stopped just for a subtle shimmy of her shoulders in celebration.
“Compared to last year, it was so relieving to finally get [a goal] in,” Abbate said. “I felt 10 pounds lighter after I scored it. It was a great feeling.”
Looking to improve upon a 4-10-3 season last year, the Mount found some success early on by forcing GW turnovers, but the Knights couldn’t generate any offense of their own.
“They were pinning us in and turning us over,” head coach Sarah Barnes said. “So the good news for us is that we’ve been through that before and we haven’t always been able to figure it out quick enough to turn the game around and get the momentum. I think that’s what we did today.”
GW adjusted quickly, outshooting the Mount 14-4 in the first half. By the end of the game, that figure grew to 27-5.
It was a clear departure from last season’s 0-0 tie between the two teams. While the Colonials outshot the Mount 19-8 in that game, they struggled to finish at the net.
“Obviously seeing six different people score for us is huge given that that is an area – and it is the hardest part of the game – but that was an area for us that can be really challenging and has been for a couple years,” Barnes said. “Being able to see that a number of different people can do it in a game when they get their chance is really exciting,”
The best chance for the Mount came with nine minutes remaining in the first half. Defender Geanna Donnelly shot the ball at the center of the goal, just below the bar, but a leaping Miranda Horn preserved the shutout with a save by the tips of her outstretched fingers.
Horn, who Barnes confirmed after the game is the team’s starting goalie, was replaced in the net by junior Ellen Conway early in the second half after recording three saves over 60 minutes. Conway made one save in 30 minutes.
In the 64th minute, senior Meg Murphy sent a header off a cross from freshman Annika Johnson into the left side. Later, in the 84th minute, freshman Brittany Cooper, who took a game-high five shots equaling last season’s single game goals record, scored GW’s fifth goal.
The sixth and final Colonials goal was tallied by redshirt freshman Camille Roberts, whose tap of a loose ball into the bottom corner of the net came just two minutes after Cooper.
“I think it means a lot, just showing us what we have and how many goal scorers we can have this year,” Ridley said.
The Colonials started seniors Alex Brothers, MacKenzie McIndoe, Madison Davis and Taylor Katz, juniors Brooke Bean, Abbate and Ridley, redshirt junior Nicole Belfonti, sophomore Lina Proska, freshman Danielle Snajder and redshirt freshman Horn in their first official contest.
By the end of the game, 25 Colonials had taken the field, each playing at least 15 minutes.
“I think you saw that we have a lot of people who give us depth,” Barnes said. “We thought that was the case during preseason but until you start playing other people, you don’t really know for sure.”
The Colonials have a quick turnaround before their next contest, a 12 p.m. home game against Old Dominion on Sunday. GW beat the Lady Monarchs 2-1 on the road last season in a distinctly physical match.