Women’s soccer fights hard in draw against Longwood
Junior goalkeeper Julia Kato shut out the Lancers as she inches closer to fifth place on AU’s all-time shutout leaderboard
It may not have been a win, but the Eagles enjoyed a strong outing. They took 10 shots, including three on goal, while holding Longwood to four and two, respectively.
The Eagles had a strong advantage in the midfield, as sophomore midfielder Eliza Fisher and graduate student midfielder Ashley Molz took a majority of the 50-50 balls, and the team put heavy pressure on the Lancers’ defense.
“We pressed really high, and we worked really hard,” said junior forward Izzy Kadzban, who recorded an early shot on goal. “It’s unfortunate nothing came of it except the shots … we wanted a goal.”
That opportunity has proven difficult for the Eagles, as they have remained scoreless in each of their first four games. Kadzban said the team needs to work hard on final passes and finishing in practice if they want to score.
Another bright spot for the Eagles was the defense. For the most part, they kept the ball away from the net, making life easier for junior goalkeeper Julia Kato.
“I think our backline played really well today, which helped keep a clean sheet,” Kato said. “When they do great, I do great. We really work together.”
On the few occasions the Lancers did get through, Kato was a wall in front of the goal. Just before the half ended, she recorded an impressive save on a close shot by Longwood forward Karleigh Minson that nearly entered the net. Kato, whose shutout today puts her one away from entering American’s all-time top-five, ended the game with two saves.
Her coverage was especially important in the second half, as Longwood put early pressure on the Eagles with multiple corner kicks, culminating in a shot on goal by forward Kiersten Yuhas that Kato swiftly stopped.
As the second half progressed, American continued to put Longwood on the defensive. However, just as in the previous half, the Eagles were not able to capitalize on their opportunities.
“I think we had more attacking chances in different ways than we have in the past,” head coach Marsha Harper said. “We talked to the girls at the end about that final pass and getting the right shot off, and recreating those types of moments again and again.”
In order to put points on the board, Harper said the team needs to increase its volume of shots. She encouraged the players to improve the way they move the ball upfield, both in the wide areas and central channels.
American will certainly have to find a way to score before its next game as the team travels to face a red-hot Auburn team on Sunday, Sept. 3. The Tigers are 3-0-1 through their first four games, and in each of their wins, they recorded at least two goals.
“We’ll treat it just like any other game,” Harper said. “[We’ll] continue to scout well and understand our opponent. In terms of preparation, I definitely give the girls what I think the other team is coming out with, but we focus a lot on what we do.”
Harper said the team will continue to have an “attacking mentality,” and the hunger will only grow as the Eagles pursue their first win.
After facing Auburn, American will return to Reeves Field on Sept. 7 for a 4 p.m. game against the University of Richmond Spiders.
This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis.