The women’s soccer team (8-10, 3-6 Atlantic 10 Conference) is winding down its season and looking for a possible Atlantic-10 playoff berth.
The journey through the A-10 schedule was not easy, but under the undaunted leadership of head coach Seamus McWilliams, the team remains strong and confident in their abilities and hope for post season action.
Beginning a conference schedule with a loss is brutal, especially if that loss is by a single goal.
The Owls were defeated at St. Joe’s 2-1 in the conference opener.
Bouncing back, the Owls won their next two games at home against Fordham and LaSalle.
Against Fordham, freshman forwards Stephanie and Samantha Vietry led the way with a combined three goals and one assist to win the game 3-2.
Samantha picked up another two goals in the LaSalle game, while senior defender Jeanette Hibbs added a goal for herself to make the final score 3-1.
As a result of her phenomenal game play, Samantha Vietry was named A-10 Rookie of the Week for the week ending October 6.
The Vietry twins have combined to score seven of the Owls 13 goals in A-10 games and a total of 12 goals for the entire season.
The Owls split their next road trip, losing 5-3 against St. Bonaventure, and winning 2-1 against Dusquesne.
The team then took two tough losses to Richmond and George Washington. Both teams boasted international athletes.
McWilliams strategy for stopping the Richmond Spiders offense was employing a spider trap.
“We invited Richmond into our zone, pressured them, won the ball, then countered,” McWilliams said.
“We got to the point where we were creating opportunities for ourselves.”
This seemed to work until Spiders sophomore Whitney Sikes put one in the back of the net late in the first half.
The Owls recovered and tied the game in the second half, but it was Sikes again who delivered the fatal spider bite and Richmond won the game 2-1.
The blame for the losses has partly been the Owls’ inability to find the net on key plays.
“We need to capitalize on our opportunities,” senior captain Elizabeth O’Brien said.
McWilliams expected to emerge victorious from the next road game against the University of Massachusetts.
However, it was nothing short of a beating as the Owls were dominated 6-1. Sophomore Melissa Foley accounted for the Owls lone goal.
Worse than the loss, however, was the injury sustained to the Owls defense. Sophomore goalkeeper Jackie Mauro was removed from play after sustaining minor injuries during the game.
Mauro has played every game so far this season and was key in securing many of the Owls’ victories.
She has 31 saves in the A-10 series and a total of 91 saves for the entire season.
Hibbs filled in for the injured Mauro for the next game against the University of Rhode Island.
Despite posting six saves, the Owls were stomped by the Rams, 6-0.
Coming home for their final two games of the regular season won’t be easy after four straight losses.
To make matters worse, the Owl’s first game will be against A-10 leader University of Dayton (15-2, 8-1 A-10), who are on a seven-game winning-streak and have already clinched a playoff berth.
McWilliams still believes that the girls have not lost their confidence in themselves, which he attributes to team unity and understanding.
“They pick each other up. That’s even more important [than winning],” he said.
Steve Papurt can be reached at email@example.com.