By KEVIN BOILARD
Mary Washington’s women’s soccer team has experienced its fair share of close calls this season, but few have been as exhilarating as last Saturday’s come-from-behind victory over Bridgewater College.
The Eagles rallied back from a 2-1 deficit to score two goals in the last 10 minutes of the homecoming game, propelling themselves to their twelth win of the season.
This was the second time UMW faced Bridgewater this season. The first time these two teams met was in the season-opener on August 31, which the Eagles took by a score of 5-4. In that match-up, UMW blew a second half lead, but ultimately won on an overtime goal by junior forward Erin Reynolds.
Bridgewater surely wanted to avenge its early season defeat, but the first half of Saturday’s game was more of a feeling-out process for the familiar foes. The two teams exchanged possessions, but neither squad really exploited a legitimate scoring opportunity.
The first half ended in a scoreless draw. Bridgewater held a slim advantage in shots (4 to 2), but UMW’s sophomore goalkeeper Charlotte Owens and the rest of her Eagle defense were able to hold off Bridgewater’s offensive charges. The Eagles’ slow start was not uncharacteristic, as head coach Corey Hewson explained after the game.
“We have a very young team, and they’re still learning how to put a full 90 minutes together,” Hewson said. “Luckily, they keep finding a way to get it done in the game’s final minutes.”
Things would get a lot worse for the Eagles before they started to get better. Less than four minutes into the second half, Bridgewater midfielder Brittney Harris scored off a beautifully crossed ball from forward Krissy Snyder. Harris redirected Snyder’s pass off her head towards the empty portion of the net, leaving no chance for Owens to make a save.
The goal brought the Eagles to life, though. Reynolds was able to knot the game up at one goal a piece with an awkwardly bouncing ball that she was able to tap into the net.
However, only 10 minutes later, Bridgewater was leading again thanks to an impressive individual effort by defender Jacey Kelley. Bridgewater’s second goal should have been deflating, but according to Hewson, his team may have had “a little extra motivation.”
Hewson did not elaborate on what the motivation could have been, but whatever it was, it clearly had an effect on freshman midfielder Lizzie Weast, who initiated both the game-tying and game-winning goals. When asked if she had recognized a weakness in Bridgewater’s defense, Weast provided a simple response.
“No, Coach just kept yelling at me to do that,” Weast said.
First, with a little over nine minutes left to play, Weast drove a shot that was mishandled by Bridgewater goalkeeper Krista Kelly. Reynolds was able to capitalize on the mistake, scoring her second goal of the game by cleaning up what Weast left behind.
Then, with less than five minutes left to play, Weast crossed the ball in front of the net to freshman forward Jessica Bednarcik.
Surprisingly, Bednarcik, the team’s leading scorer, passed on the game-winning shot opportunity to sophomore defender Sam Lockley.
“I knew it was my responsibility to be on the back post, but I honestly thought Jess [Bednarcik] was going to score,” Lockley said. “When the ball came to me, all I could think was, ‘I better not miss this.’”
Luckily for the Eagles, Lockley did not miss, and her team was able to hold onto the lead until time expired.
The Eagles won again against Southern Virginia Univeristy on Tuesday, 5-2
With the win, UMW improved to 13-1-2 overall (3-1-2 in CAC). They will host the first round of the conference championship on Saturday, Oct. 27.