Women’s soccer slows early-season momentum heading into A-10 play

Media Credit: File Photo by Arielle Bader

Senior goalkeeper Anna Tapen has been solid at the backstop for the Colonials boasting a 0.857 save percentage.

Women’s soccer lost its early-season spark going scoreless in the last four games of GW’s nonconference slate.

The Colonials (4-3-1) had a strong start to the season with first-year head coach Michelle Demko at the helm, recording four-straight wins to open the season for the first time since 2016.

But now heading into Atlantic 10 play Thursday, the team has not recorded a goal since their 4–1 victory against Stetson last month. The Colonials were shut out in their losses to Georgetown on Aug. 30 and NC State earlier this month before playing Maryland to a 0–0 draw Sept. 9. The Colonials lost their third game of the season 3–0 to James Madison Sunday.

GW’s record so far puts them tied for seventh place in the conference with Dayton. Reigning A-10 champions La Salle (5-1-1), Saint Joseph’s (5-2-2) and George Mason (5-3-0) headline the top-three teams in the conference.

The Colonials were ranked No. 8 in the fourth United States Coaches’ Week East Region Poll. La Salle ranked above the Colonials in fourth place, while Saint Joseph’s and Dayton followed GW at ninth and 10th, respectively.

Although GW’s offense has been struggling, the team’s defense has remained strong. The Colonials’ backline has held opponents to a .97 goals against average, fifth among conference competition. Before their 3–0 loss to James Madison, the Colonials had conceded just three goals in two losses.

Senior goalkeeper Anna Tapen has been solid at the backstop for the Colonials. Through 732 minutes, Tapen boasts a 0.857 save percentage, good for first in the A-10. The first-time starter’s 48 saves rank second among conference competition.

Despite their strong start, the Colonials have had a low-scoring season, with their 1.13 goals per game average ranking 10th in the league. Last season, GW ended with a 1.11 goals per game average.

Now on a four-game scoring drought, GW will need to focus on its offensive output to match its competitors.

Ahead of the start of A-10 play, here is a look at key competitors the Colonials will face.

George Mason (5-3-0):

As the No. 3 seed, the Patriots fell to No. 6 seed VCU in the A-10 quarterfinals last season. This season, the Patriots are averaging 1.50 goals per game, good for fifth in the league, but the team’s defense has been permeable. George Mason has given up 15 goals this season compared to GW’s eight, and opponents average 1.88 goals against the Patriots. Last season, the Colonials battled the Patriots to a 3–4 loss. With both offenses even on the stat sheet, the teams’ Sept. 27 meeting looks like it will be a defensive battle in favor of GW.

Saint Joseph’s (5-2-2):

At last year’s A-10 tournament, the seventh-seeded Hawks fell to VCU in the semifinals. Despite the early exit, Saint Joseph’s returns 10 starters this season. Another low-scoring team, Saint Joseph’s relies heavily on defensive play to win games. The Hawks rank fourth in the A-10 with a .95 goals against average, though the numbers are skewed by high-scoring losses to Bucknell and Princeton. GW faces Saint Joseph’s on the road on Oct. 11.

Saint Louis (5-3-1):

The Colonials’ toughest competition comes at the end of their A-10 regular season slate on Oct. 21. The Billikens are heavily favored to finish first in the conference, receiving 10 first-place votes in the preseason poll. In all five of its wins this season, the team has held its opponents scoreless, thanks to junior goalkeeper Olivia Silverman. Silverman’s 0.77 goals against average leads the conference and could spell trouble for the Colonials after their recent offensive drought. The Billikens have the makings of an all-around team, averaging 1.89 goals per game, the second-highest in the league.

Dayton (4-3-1):

Last season, Dayton made it to the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament as the eighth seed, only to fall to La Salle. The Flyers are relatively average in all categories compared to conference competitors, ranking ninth in conference play with an average of 1.25 goals per game and sixth with a 1.09 goals against average. Dayton has also been held scoreless in four of its eight matches this season, opening the door for the Colonials to capitalize on a lack of consistency from their offense. However, the Flyers are a consistent competitor in the conference, making the tournament every year since joining the A-10 in 1995, and are an interesting bubble team to keep an eye out for. The Flyers and the Colonials will face off at home Oct. 14.

Duquesne (4-3-0):

Last season, the Colonials faced the Dukes in back-to-back matchups. GW tied Duquesne 0–0 in the Colonials’ final regular season game before a double-overtime 1–0 loss in the A-10 Championship quarterfinals ended their season. Heading into conference play, the Dukes are averaging 1.29 goals per game, barely edging GW’s average. Duquesne’s weak spot could be the team’s defense, which allows an average of 1.29 goals scored against them, ranking them eighth among A-10 competition. Even while struggling on offense, the Colonials might have an easier time finding the back of the net in their Oct. 4 match against the Dukes.

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