Alfonsi, Mulhern help Eagles break out of rough stretch

Alfonsi, Mulhern help Eagles break out of rough stretch
Nicole Paviglionite and the Eagles hope to end their non-conference schedule with a win at Richmond Sept. 22.

The past two weeks have been rough for the women’s soccer team, but a 2-1 win over Howard and a 1-1 draw at George Washington finally have things looking up.

Coming into the Sept. 14 home match against Howard, the Eagles were facing big time struggles on offense. AU had scored one goal in its last four games, losing all four of those matches to see its record drop to 1-6-1.

With a record of 7-0-0 all time against Howard, the Eagles had the perfect opponent coming to Reeves Field to fix their problems, and Erin Mulhern wasted no time in taking advantage.

The sophomore forward dribbled through the Howard defense and fired a shot past Bison goalkeeper Kyra Dickinson 40 seconds into the match to put the Eagles up 1-0. It was AU’s first lead since an Aug. 25 victory at Maryland-Baltimore County.

The Eagles (2-6-2) controlled play for most of the match but missed out on numerous chances to extend their lead. Those missed opportunities came back to haunt them in the 78th minute when Owyn Manson beat AU goalkeeper Charlene Belanger to tie the game at 1-1.

“We have to have a stronger mentality to put chances away and stay focused defensively for 90 minutes,” AU head coach Dave Bucciero said. “That would be the only real critique of the game.”

With the way the game had gone, a draw against Howard would be a disappointing result. Thankfully for the Eagles, Shaena Alfonsi came through when it mattered most.

Dribbling into the right side of the box, Alfonsi’s first shot attempt was blocked by a Howard (0-8-2) defender. She then sent her second shot on net, and the ball traveled past a diving Dickinson for the game-winning goal with 28 seconds left.

“[Jasmine Mohandesi] played a great ball in,” Alfonsi said, as her goal snapped the team’s four-game losing streak. “I give all the props to her.”

AU took the momentum into its match at George Washington Sept. 18, and it was Mulhern again getting things started quickly. Mulhern put AU up 1-0 in the 13th minute after her shot deflected off the crossbar and into the net.

The Eagles took the one-goal lead into halftime, but an AU foul in the box gave George Washington a penalty kick in the 60th minute. Molly Bruh converted for the Colonials (3-4-1), knotting the game at 1-1.

Neither team could muster a goal over the final 30 minutes of regulation or in either of the two 10-minute overtime periods, leading to the draw between the cross-town rivals.

“I think we’ve faced a pretty difficult non-conference schedule, and that I think can wear on our confidence,” Bucciero said. “It’s important that we remember that non-conference play is about winning as many games as you can. It’s also about preparing for Patriot League play, and I feel like this schedule has done that.”

The Eagles will wrap up their non-conference slate Sept. 22 at Richmond and are set to start conference action Sept. 28 at Navy.

ttomea@theeagleonline.com

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