The American University women’s soccer team (3-3-0, 0-0-0 PL) lost 0-2 to Old Dominion after a three-game hiatus from Reeves Field. The Sept. 9 defeat broke the Eagles’ winning streak earned over a string of away matches.
In only the 13th minute, head coach Marsha Harper’s side conceded a goal as the Monarchs strung together a series of short passes to set up Megan Watts for a clear shot on the net. The junior forward’s right-footed shot landed in the upper left corner of the goal, ultimately beyond the reach of freshman goalkeeper Julia Kato.
The Eagles were then forced to play catch-up for the rest of the match.
“They’re one of the first teams we’ve played so far that’s done a lot of switching and quick serves into the box and that’s where our backline was a little bit frantic,” veteran defender and team co-captain Asia Horne said.
AU struggled to adequately fend off the savviness of Old Dominion from start to finish. In the first half alone, the Monarchs rounded off a staggering twelve shots to which they later added on thirteen more in the game’s latter half.
“We were all over the field defensively, just on our heels,” Harper said. “We were reactive instead of proactive in reading things and closing down space.”
By halftime, it looked like the Eagles were still in the game as they were only down by one goal. However, Old Dominion came out blazing with two shots in under five minutes.
“This [Old Dominion] team came out and wanted it,” Harper said. “They were physically pushing, pressing offensively and were popping off the lines well. That makes it hard to figure out who’s defending who.”
On the other side of the ball, AU couldn’t keep the ball long enough to launch an offensive attack. The team’s lone opportunity came when senior forward Juliana Saling pinged a shot off of the crossbar. After that, the Eagles spent the remainder of the game in their own defensive third.
Another problem for the Eagles was the team’s collective mentality and lack of tenacity necessary to face up against an opponent like Old Dominion.
“I think it was less tactical [and] more grit,” Horne said. “The work ethic today just wasn’t what we wanted or what we’ve usually shown.”
Coach Harper agreed that the mental game played a huge factor in her side’s loss.
“We just didn’t want it and we weren’t ready to be the enforcer on the offensive side or the defensive side,” coach Harper said. “It's a mentality thing and we needed to learn [to] off a winning streak but weren't mentally prepared to go back into battle the way that we need to,” she added.
In spite of the winning streak being snapped, Harper said the Eagles can use this game and look ahead of what’s next.
“Winning is hard, and to continue to win is even harder because complacency can set in, if you let it,” Harper said. “So, mentally, I think that's our biggest lesson that we're taking away from today.”
AU will return to action on Reeves Field on Sept. 18 against Holy Cross at 3 p.m. ET, where the Eagles will take on their first conference fixture of the season.