Nothing has come easily to the women’s soccer team in the early portion of this season, from losing senior center back and defensive anchor Brooke Bean, to moving former midfielder Kate Elson to the back, to inserting freshman Sofia Pavon into the starting lineup.
Those challenges, coupled with a strong non-conference schedule, have the Colonials sitting at 4-4-0 with one game left until Atlantic 10 play begins. But the team is hoping that their record so far doesn’t speak for their potential success in conference, given the adjustments they have had to make and their competition thus far. With the last couple games having come against weaker competition, GW is hoping to open league play with some momentum.
“We’ve gone through and we’ve had some tough losses,” said head coach Sarah Barnes after the team’s win against Liberty on Thursday. “We’ve been able to make some adjustments and fix a few things, and my hope and my feeling is that we’ll be able to go into these last [non-conference] games far more seasoned and prepared and then start conference [play] off on the right foot.”
The Colonials started the season 2-1, but then lost three in a row to Drexel, Georgetown and Delaware, respectively. During the losing streak, they were outscored 8-2, despite narrowly trailing in shots at 25-23.
However, the team is optimistic that a strong response against Liberty, that ended with a 3-0 victory and another 2-0 shutout win Sunday against Delaware State, are indicators that they are starting to figure things out at the right time. The Colonials will play their final non-conference game against UMBC (2-6-1) Thursday.
“We play tough teams on purpose like Georgetown and in California. We’re losing but like Sarah says, every game we’ve learned something from that and we build upon that and take that into games like this where it was a little bit easier but we applied what we learned and that helps us to win,” forward MacKenzie Cowley said after the team’s win Sunday.
Delaware State came out of its loss to the Colonials with a 2-7-1 record, but Barnes said that the team can’t let up its focus against any opponent and that the last few games will be an opportunity for GW to focus on fundamentals leading into A-10 play.
“You still have to do the simple things, whether you’re playing a really good team or whether you’re playing a middle of the park team,” Barnes said after the Delaware State game. “I just think we have to, sometimes we go, “Oh, I can make that big play,’ and I think the truth is that happens one out of a hundred times. We just have to stay disciplined.”
And, the Colonials will need to be totally focused as they kick off A-10 play on October 1 at the Mount Vernon campus against a 5-3-0 Hawks team picked to finish seventh in the conference in preseason polls.
Saint Joseph’s has started well, defeating Buffalo, Sacred Heart, Rider and Seton Hall, and suffering a narrow overtime loss to Northeastern as well as a tough 3-2 contest against Lehigh. All three of the Hawks’ losses were suffered on the road.
For their part, the Colonials have both scored and allowed 12 goals through eight games, though they trail 45-33 in shots on goal.
Those numbers, though, include the onslaught of attacks brought by teams like Cal State Fullerton and Georgetown. After being picked to finish fourth in the conference in preseason polls, expectations should not have simmered because of the team’s 0.500 record.
That doesn’t mean wins don’t matter. It’s been two games since the Colonials allowed a goal, which is something the team can build on.
“At the end of the day the result 100 percent matters,” Barnes said. “It’s important. We just have a higher goal for ourselves and I think to get to it we got to be able to execute at a more consistent level.”
“The win gives you confidence and I think that feels good,” she added.
The Colonials understand that the time is now to make their move heading into conference play. There is still a long season ahead, and the squad is hoping to start their run now.