By KEVIN BOILARD
The Mary Washington women’s soccer team played 215 consecutive minutes of scoreless soccer, spanning from their kickoff with York on Saturday Oct. 5 to late in the second overtime of their matchup with Shenandoah on Monday Oct. 8th. Junior forward Erin Reynolds eventually ended the Eagles’ scoring drought with a game-winning goal at the 5:30 mark.
The Eagles’ defensive tussle with York was expected; the Spartans have only dropped one game all season, allowing only one goal along the way.
Mary Washington counted on reliable defenders, senior Emmalee Denkler and sophomore Jenny Mayo, as well as sophomore goalkeeper Charlotte Owens to keep the game close.
The defense held up their end of the bargain, but the Eagles’ offense couldn’t pierce through the stifling Spartan defense for a goal. The game, which ended in a 0-0 tie, was one that head coach Corey Hewson felt the team deserved.
Motivated by the hard-fought tie with York, UMW returned to the Battlegrounds complex to host Shenandoah on Monday Oct. 8th. Although they were hungry for a goal, the team would have to wait. Shenandoah’s defense had a firm grasp on what the Eagles’ offense wanted to do.
“They knew we have a lot of speed,” Hewson said after the game. “They man-marked us—sometimes even double man-marked us—for most of the game. We were making the right runs; if we were able to play a little quicker, the score would have been four or five to nothing.”
The Eagles’ offense kept pounding away at Shenandoah even though it looked like they were making little progress. Reynolds and freshman forward Jessica Bednarcik hooked up for a couple promising scoring chances early, but neither could find the back of the net.
Both teams grew impatient with the lack of scoring in the second half. The Eagles began spending less time setting up their offensive plays, ditching the strategic approach for a more aggressive one. Unfortunately for UMW, the tactical shift was equally ineffective.
Even Shenandoah, a seven-loss team that played packed-in defense for most of the game, showed an urgency to score before the end of the second half. With less than five minutes left to play, Shenandoah hit the Eagles with an offensive flurry. UMW handled the pressure accordingly, though, sweeping any dangerous balls out of their own defensive zone.
Regulation ended in a 0-0 tie, as did the first overtime period. The most notable play in the first overtime period was when Mayo went down with an injury in front of her own net.
“I just got sandwiched between their forward and Charlotte [Owens], and it knocked the wind out of me,” Mayo said. “I couldn’t breathe while I was on the ground, but I managed to tell the ref that I wanted to stay in the game.”
It took a little while, but the referee held off UMW coaches and trainers long enough for Mayo to get back on her feet. Mayo, who had played well up until that point, demonstrated an exceptional determination and will to win.
So did her teammate, Reynolds. Shortly after kicking off the second overtime, Reynolds found herself in front of the net with the ball on her foot. With a chance to end the game, Reynolds’ shot was blocked. Luckily for her, the opportunity would present itself again.
“My first shot was going perfectly towards the corner of the goal, but the goalie stuck her foot out and got to it,” Reynolds said. “I was thinking, ‘you got to be kidding me’ but then the ball bounced right back to me and I was able to put it in.”
Reynolds could barely believe the game’s outcome, which ended with her exalting teammates storming the field to congratulate her.
“It felt really good—sort of surreal,” Reynolds said.