Unlike last year’s near-perfect start, the AU women’s soccer team has begun this season stumbling over its own feet, and worse, sending the ball into its own goal.
They did the latter twice at Tuesday’s home contest against George Mason - once off the head of freshman defender Jess Cole in the 44th minute, and once off the hip of sophomore back Annette Scott in the 71st. And in the 76th minute sophomore ‘keeper Allison Doyle misplayed a long-range strike from Danielle MacDonald, gifting Mason another goal as AU (0-2-0) sank to a 3-0 defeat.
Yet what ended as the Eagles’ second home loss in two games began promisingly for the home side, which dominated early with a quick, crisp passing attack.
“The first 15, 20 minutes, we played good soccer,” said AU coach Michael Brady. “We came out sharp, but then we got into a mental state where we thought we had everything under control….Then, (Mason) just took over physically. They dominated us.”
While both sides might argue over who started it, the bigger, stronger Patriots clearly benefited when the match turned physical later in the opening half. And did it ever.
First, a head-ball collision between Mason’s Kristin Portell and AU freshman midfielder Katelynn Donovan dropped both to the ground, with Portell having to leave action. Then, after several questionable challenges from both sides went un-whistled, AU freshman forward Lauren Esposito received a yellow card in the 34th minute for apparently chopping down Mason’s Mary Raveia behind the play. Raveia also left for medical attention.
Two minutes later, AU freshman midfielder Katlyn Miller dropped to the turf after a Mason foul, but stayed in the match. Then AU senior Natalie Rodovsky took an incidental cleat to the thigh, drawing the fourth injury timeout of the half.
And then, with AU seemingly just trying to survive until the break, Mason got essentially an incidental goal, as a dangerous cross from the left wrong-footed the AU defense, and plunked off Cole’s head and past temporary sub freshman ‘keeper Andy Germain.
“When we try to match up physically, we usually end up losing,” said senior forward Marcela Ricupero. “Our toughness level is not there yet, and we need to work on that.”
That seemed the case in the second half as after the first goal, credited to
See SOCCER, page 13