A scoreless home opener against George Washington leaves women's soccer with a draw and hungry for a win
The Eagles’ strong defense fended off GW well, but they struggled to make a connection in the box to take a lead over their cross-town rival
Coming off an underdog win against nationally ranked University of South Florida, the American University women’s soccer team knew much was at stake when they took the field against George Washington University on Aug. 31.
With just four miles separating the two schools, GW and AU are fierce rivals, amplifying the pressure set by the Eagles’ first home game. Knowing the Eagles beat GW 2-0 in the 2021 matchup, the team walked onto the field confident but also ready to work as “one unit,'' said sophomore goalie Julia Kato.
GW’s Rachel Sorkenn and Aoi Kataoka let off the first two shots on goal within the first five minutes of play. However, a combination of Kato’s saves and AU’s strategic defense allowed the Eagles to regain control of the ball and execute crucial transitions up the side. In the first half, AU’s offense struggled to put pressure on GW’s defense and wasn’t able to take many shots on goal.
“In the first half we weren’t taking as much care of the ball,” said head coach Marsha Harper. “We’re a team that likes and values actively having the ball. After halftime, that was our focus.”
In the second half, the Eagles worked as one unit to find the gaps within the field and make clean passes toward the goal, just like they did in their previous win against USF. Senior Cailin Panacek made several strong crosses to the middle in an effort to assist a teammate's search for the back of the net. The Eagles’ persistent offensive push was without success as the clock neared the end of the game.
The final moments of the game were filled with shots right above the bar for both sides, including a powerful kick from AU senior Alysa Vazquez that sailed over the crossbar. The NCAA April ruling does not allow for overtime play in out-of-conference games, meaning that this match would end in a draw if it was still tied by the end. Every player was frantically working to push their team to a win, bouncing between the penalty boxes on both sides, paired with distinct defensive moves to protect the AU net.
“We had to push people up, we wanted a win. But we also didn’t want to push too hard and end up with a loss,” Harper said.
The team pushed up but failed to get a finishing touch on the ball and take the lead.
“A tie gets us a point, but we need more than that to get us to the championships. So that was the message for the team — and just also learning something from each game,” Harper said.
“Every year it’s a hope to make it to the tournament,” Kato said. “This year we’re ready to put in the work to get there. And we wanna win.”
The Eagles also tied 0-0 against Holy Cross this past Sunday, Sept. 4th, making their record 1-1-3 so far this season.