By RILEY DOHERTY
It was 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 6 at the soccer field behind the Alvey parking deck. Two teams were doing warm-ups for the start of the Talon Cup; on the right side, East Carolina University and on the left University of Mary Washington’s club soccer team.
“This is the first tournament ever, that we’ve hosted” said Carolyn Rouse, a junior English creative writing major and president of the club soccer team in an interview the day before.
“I don’t want to say it’s historical but it kind of is. We’re really excited, a lot of the girls are really excited.”
Despite their excitement, the UMW club soccer team was cautious about their opponent.
“ECU is DI…DI schools are usually bigger and have a lot more players to pull from, so they usually are more skilled,” said Rouse “ECU is the anticipated champion of this tournament.”
Rouse’s assumption was proven to be correct. At 1:30, both teams took to the field and the game started. From the very start of the game ECU played very aggressively both in team strategy and in one-on-one altercations. There were multiple instances of ECU players slamming into or knocking down UMW players, even to the point where one of the ECU players got yellow carded.
A few minutes later an ECU player kicked a ball directly into a UMW player’s face, but based on the ECU player’s shocked reaction and immediate show of concern it appeared to be an accident. ECU’s aggression forced UMW to defense for most of the first half, but Rouse and the rest of the team consider this one of their strengths.
“We know that if we play our game, which is possession, then we should be able to do well,” said Rouse.
Despite UMW’s best efforts, ECU scored a goal right before halftime. Although there was a point disadvantage, the UMW team wasn’t too worried.
“A lot of times we call ourselves the second half team because the first half we figure out our ground, how everything is gonna go, we figure out how the other team is. And at half time we group ourselves and we are able to push through when the other team is tired,” said Rouse,
After the break and a few minutes of defensive play, UMW was able to go on the offensive and score a goal, tying up the game. Unfortunately, due to a last-minute penalty kick, ECU was able to sneak into the lead without giving UMW a chance to respond, and ending the game 2-1.
“I wasn’t really happy with the penalty kick called near the end,” said Paola Urlich, a senior biology major. “I don’t think the score reflects how we played.”
UMW’s second game was against the University of Lynchburg, and was over-all much more tame, with no dramatic accidents or cards pulled. Although Lynchburg wasn’t as out-right aggressive as ECU, they still had control of the field for most of the game, scoring 3 points before UMW was able to score one near the end of the second half, ending the game 3-1.
The third game, between UMW and ECU again, was also a loss, but Rouse attributed this to ECU having more time to rest between games due to scheduling. The final game on Saturday was between UMW and Lynchburg and ended in a tie.
On Sunday there was only one match, the final round between ECU and Lynchburg, ending with ECU defeating Lynchburg 2-0. Rouse thought the two teams were evenly matched, but attributed ECU’s victory to a speed advantage.
ECU’s victory left a bad taste in the UMW player’s mouths.
“ECU overall had a bad attitude,” Rouse said after the game Sunday. Despite this Rouse thinks the overall experience was a positive one. She said, “Overall I’m really proud of how the entire process of the tournament was planned and executed and we all needed each other to do it. We couldn’t have done it without each other.”