By NICK NELSON
Despite some wild weather and an upstart opponent causing havoc early in the game, the Mary Washington women’s soccer team pulled out a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Guilford College on Sunday.
The thrilling, rain-soaked match-up highlighted the play of two of the newest additions to the Eagle’s team as well as the lightning reflexes of the goalkeeper.
Both squads were able to exhibit a youth movement as UMW had 12 freshmen on roster and Guilford with 13.
The weather turned from sunny and hot to rainy and dark in a hurry, forcing many fans to run for cover or dash to their cars for umbrellas. However the competitive fire emanating from players on both sides of the ball never wavered.
Guilford scored the only goal of the first half, off of sophomore Ellie Taylor’s strike in the 26th minute. The 1-0 mark would hold heading into halftime.
According to Head Coach Corey Hewson, the rain was not the Eagles’ biggest problem of the day.
“I think really we just needed to stay focused. Our biggest issue coming into today’s game was consistency. We play a real Jekyll and Hyde game of soccer. Sometimes we’re really on, other times we tend to struggle,” Hewson said. “The first half really forced us to change our rhythm. We made some bad choices and we panicked. We just had to come back out in the second half and stay simple.”
The Eagle’s took to the soggy field under threatening skies and consistent showers in the second half of play poised, focused, and ready to strike. Freshman Brandy Sampson scored the equalizing goal in the 58th minute, the product of a deflection off Guilford keeper Amber Stapler’s initial save on the previous shot on goal.
Defense reigned supreme for much of the remainder, until freshman Nicole Dierkes scored UMW’s winning goal off another deflection, this time the product of freshman Bridget Dooley’s blocked shot to make the score 2-1.
As Hewson explained, the players really gave it everything that they had during the entire game.
“They were not giving up at all. Once [they] took advantage, they wouldn’t let it slip. We just had to hold onto our consistency. We needed time to get into a rhythm,” he said.
The star of Sunday’s game, Dierkes, agreed.
“We just really wanted it today. We have a whiteboard on the wall in the locker room with each of our individual goals, and we just tried to come out and work on that as a team,” she said.
Coming off the previous day’s loss to Eastern, Hewson was eager to get the girls back into the right mindset.
“I just told them to go out there, play soccer, and have fun. It’s easy to get tense, but you have to rediscover the fun.”
“We kind of tended to rush and just play kickball in the first half, but we really played a lot more focused in the second half,” Dierkes said.
Mary Washington was evenly matched with Guilford in goal, with UMW netting four saves to Guilford’s five.
Their next game will be this Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Battlegrounds against conference rival Salisbury University. With the win, Mary Washington moves to 5-3-2 overall, with a 3-1 conference record.(Results do not include Wednesday’s game)