By WESLEY HOST
A new chapter started this past weekend for Mary Washington athletics, as Jason Kilby coached his first two games at the helm of the Mary Washington soccer team. The Eagles hosted the UMW Soccer Classic, a four-team showcase involving Bridgewater College, Greensboro College and conference rival Marymount University.
Mary Washington defeated Greensboro 3-1 this past Saturday, Sept. 3, to open the Kilby era with a victory. Senior Corey Sims and sophomore Tommy Sangbouasy teamed up just eight minutes into the game to give UMW an early lead. Sangsbouasy passed to Sims right outside of the 18, Sims zinged it right back to complete the give and go, and Sangbouasy popped the ball up perfectly so that it descended back down just under the crossbar for the goal.
After the initial score, the Eagles shifted to a more conservative approach, focusing more on connecting passes and keeping possession. With five minutes remaining in the half, Kilby’s crew went back to a more aggressive approach as they began to attack the goal once again.
With 2:40 left in the opening half, senior Patch Owen crossed to junior Smith Norton who brought it back to sophomore Jack Doyle, but Doyle’s attempt lofted over the crossbar. UMW took a 1-0 lead into halftime.
Eight minutes into the second half Greensboro freshman John Longfellow was red carded for tripping an Eagles player from the back, forcing the Pride to play down a player for the remainder of the match.
Despite the one-man advantage for the Eagles, Greensboro managed to sneak in a goal seven minutes later. Freshman Logan Paussa connected with Stenson Croom on a long throw in. Croom wasn’t picked up by Eagle defenders and connected on Paussa’s pass with a shot that found the top right corner of the net to square the game at 1-1.
Sophomore Nick Shepherd came into the second half as a substitute after not seeing any action in the opening 45 minutes of play. The insertion of Shepherd proved to be a fantastic move by Kilby, as the sophomore scored two second-half goals that ended up securing the UMW win.
Not even two minutes after Croom had tied the game, the Virginia Military Institute transfer, Shepherd, got his first goal in an Eagle uniform to put Mary Washington back on top. Junior Omar Ismail gained possession on the right flank just passed midfield. He took a couple dribbles and then decided to put the ball up for grabs. Shepherd judged the ball in the air and picked it out of the sky, as he jumped and headed the ball to the ground just to the back right corner of the goal.
A mere 12 minutes later, a similar situation occurred, and Shepherd once again showed off his skills and leaping ability to score another spectacular goal. The second Shepherd header came off a corner kick from Owen, who put the ball in the box up and allowed Shepherd to read it perfectly and make a play on the ball to increase the Eagles lead to 3-1.
“I was extremely impressed by [Shepherd’s] second goal,” Kilby said. “The first one I think he may have gotten a little lucky, but on the second he connected with the ball to put it past the keeper.”
The extra man at UMW’s disposal definitely played a huge role in the game, particularly with the way the Pride struggled to defend the six foot sophomore from Palmyra, Virginia.
On Sunday, the energy and momentum was just not present. The Eagles struggled to keep possession and remained on the defensive side throughout the game. Bridgewater scored in both halves and UMW didn’t score until there was only three seconds left in the game. The goal scorer was sophomore Jake Doyle who played at Virginia Commonwealth University last season. He was assisted on the score by junior Matt Alter.
The loss comes from just one of the many tough out-of-conference games the Eagles have to endure. The rest of their season includes games against Randolph-Macon College, Hampden-Sydney College and No. two ranked Lynchburg College.
Kilby was happy by the way his team played. Kilby has enormous shoes to fill following legendary coach Roy Gordon, but he has the confidence of his players.
“I like Kilby, he’s younger and brings a lot more energy to the game,” Sangsbousay said. “Gordon was great, but Kilby really meshes with this team.”
Gordon was in attendance for Saturday’s game, and he too thinks the program is in good hands.
“I’m very comfortable with the way the program has transitioned,” Gordon said.
With veteran captains Bram Sims and Robby Davis, talented freshmen Kevin Shavalay, and a couple of skilled transfers in Shepherd and Doyle, the Eagles have the firepower to be a threat in the Capital Athletic Conference.