By EVAN HICKS
Last Saturday, Oct. 22, the University of Mary Washington women’s soccer team played Stevenson University and lost to the Mustangs 2-0. It was the Eagles’ homecoming game and their last chance to affect their standing in the Capital Athletic Conference. The loss dropped UMW under .500 in conference play at 3-4-1, and dipped their overall mark to 8-5-2.
The Eagles had a tough test against a highly rated Stevenson team that finished the season at 6-1-1 against CAC competition and handed the conference’s top team, Salisbury University, their only conference loss of the season. Despite the magnitude of the game, the Mustangs outran, outshot, and outplayed the Lady Eagles en route to a 2-0 shutout win.
“We weren’t executing our game plan,” Head Coach Corey Hewson said. “They outworked us. They just completely outworked us.”
The stage was set and the stands were filled with rowdy fans decked out in their finest UMW apparel, noisemakers and horns in hand. The raucous bunch came ready to cheer, but the Mustangs stymieing defense didn’t give the Eagles crowd much to root for. Hewson intimated that the lack of fire by the Mary Washington players is the issue.
“We’re just going to ask them to step it up and play with some passion,” Hewson said. “That’s it. You can’t fix something technically or tactically when the girls just aren’t playing at that level. It’s completely mental.”
In the first half, the two teams seemed evenly matched. The game was scoreless through the first 30 minutes of game action, but the Mustangs scored suddenly in the 31st minute when Stevenson’s Jamie Matlock scored to put UMW in a 1-0 hole.
The Eagles never seemed to get back on even footing after they got behind. The Mustangs dominated the ball for much of the game, keeping Mary Washington’s defense on their toes and not allowing the Eagles offense to get into a rhythm. The Mustangs had 17 shots, with 11 shots on goal, compared to just six shots for the Eagles and only two shots on goal. Stevenson’s Meghan Williams scored the other Mustangs goal in the 64th minute, securing the 2-0 loss for UMW.
“We couldn’t play the game we usually like to play,” Eagles’ senior goalkeeper Tina Brehm said. “They kept deflecting all of our crosses. They were deflecting every single shot. Every time we turned, they were right there on us. They had a really good defensive game today.”
Brehm did her best to stave off Stevenson’s offense, as she tallied nine saves in defeat. Brehm also had the highlight of the game for Mary Washington, as she managed a midair, two handed block, while colliding with a Mustangs player attempting a slide tackle to prevent a goal.
“I think that we knew that this was a really good team,” Brehm said. “As far as Homecoming goes, I don’t think it was that big of a factor, but it was our last conference game, it was our last chance to make a statement and now we’re just going to have to wait and see how the rest of the teams do.”
The women’s soccer team got back into action on Tuesday, Oct. 25, but failed to rebound with a win. The Lady Eagles fell to Roanoke College at home 1-0 in an out-of-conference game to end their regular season 8-6-2 overall.
Mary Washington finished the year as the fifth seed in the CAC standings, and they will travel to either take on York College or Frostburg State University in the first round of the CAC Tournament on Sunday, Oct. 30.