Women’s soccer kicked off Atlantic 10 action with a 4–0 victory against Rhode Island Thursday, ending GW’s four-game scoring drought.
In a span of 17 minutes, four different players each recorded their first goal of the year to help the home side pull away. The Colonials (5–3–1, 1–0 A-10) outshot the Rams (0–9–0, 0–1 A-10) 20–6 on the night.
“We always talk about after scoring a goal, the most important part is the next five minutes,” head coach Michelle Demko said. “So for us to continue to press the game and put them under some pressure and put ourselves in good opportunities, then the other goals just came after that.”
GW’s leading scorer, sophomore midfielder Alexis Williams, remained on the sidelines with a lower-body injury she sustained against Maryland earlier this month. Instead, three freshmen and a senior who came off the bench provided the afternoon’s scoring.
The defensive side also picked up the slack. Senior goalkeeper Anna Tapen earned her fourth clean sheet of the year, saving all three shot-on-goal attempts she faced.
“I think we’ve been super defensively strong all season, and obviously these past couple of games haven’t really worked out in our favor, and I think ultimately we’ve just focused on energy and kind of moving as a whole and being a cohesive group, and just kind of making sure that we knew where everyone was at all times,” redshirt junior defender Megan McCormick said.
The Colonials were stuck in a stalemate with the Rams for the first 10 minutes of the match. An offside call held the game at even after Rhode Island attacked the Colonials’ defensive line and appeared to find the back of the net.
The Rams earned another golden opportunity to get on the scoreboard when they were awarded a free kick right outside the penalty box, but GW halted the attack.
“The first 10 minutes were slow to start,” Demko said. “I think they had more time and space to plan than they normally do, so they were trying to do too much or dribble too much.”
GW pulled ahead in the 33rd minute after freshman midfielder Maria Pareja received a throw in from sophomore midfielder Natalie Silberman and danced around a few Rhode Island defenders to knock the ball past the goalkeeper for her first collegiate point. Pareja led GW with five shots with two on goal.
Six minutes later, freshman midfielder Beth Ellinport volleyed a deflected shot over the head of the Rams’ keeper to put GW up 2–0.
Fully capturing the game’s momentum, senior forward Charley Prevost joined in on the first-half scoring fun with three minutes left in the frame. Redshirt sophomore forward Anya Heijst collected a loose ball in Rhode Island’s box and crossed it to Prevost, who powered the ball into the net – sending GW into the locker room with a 3–0 advantage.
GW’s offensive onslaught continued five minutes into the second half when freshman defender Hannah Zaluski won a ball in front of Rhode Island’s penalty area and quickly finished to increase the GW lead to four.
“I think today was a good result of the players talking to each other and understanding that the game can be cleaner and sharper,” Demko said.
Twenty-five minutes into the second half, freshman goalkeeper Erica Lorenzana replaced Tapen and caught some action in the 82nd minute when Rhode Island senior defender Alexa Elworthy launched an effort from a set piece. The ball grazed the underside of the crossbar before Lorenzana stretched her hand up in time to deflect the shot away, preventing Rhode Island from tainting GW’s shutout.
“It’s our first A-10 game – it kind of sets the standard that we want to win every game hopefully by this many goals or more,” Pareja said of the win.
The Colonials hit the road to take on Fordham at 1 p.m. Sunday.