Oct. 7, 2008
This past weekend's games against UConn and Providence in many ways were typical of the season as a whole. Two themes continue to present themselves. First, we are a very good team capable of playing quality soccer and creating scoring chances. Second, we did not reward ourselves for playing good soccer by scoring goals often enough, and as a result we have let opportunities to earn victories slip away. This past weekend we did well enough to win, but in the end we could only manage a tie on both occasions.
On Friday night we took on a UConn team that was very talented, but had not seemed to be getting the results they had become accustomed to over the years. We knew, though, that they played very good soccer, and it was only a matter of time before they would put things together and start getting results. Unfortunately despite playing well, we found ourselves in a little bit of a hole early on in the match when a UConn forward used a good piece of individual skill to get in behind our defense and hit a volley to the top corner. We did not get flustered or rattled by the goal, but instead just kept on playing soccer knowing that our chances would come. We had two great chances to tie the game before the end of the half. First, Shannon Smyth broke in behind the defense off a neat little dummy from Ashley Auld on a pass from Kelsey Hunyadi, but with only the keeper to beat Shannon pushed her effort just wide of the post. Then, just before the stroke of halftime we had a corner kick that we nearly capitalized on. Ashley Auld managed to elevate and head the ball off the crossbar and into the goal, but there was an apparent foul on the play and the goal was called back. Our breakthrough did not come until the 69th minute, when Lindsay Boling picked up the ball 20 yards away from the UConn goal and fired a low driven shot to the far post to tie the score at one. From there we kept pushing in hopes of getting the victory. We got in behind their defense again and even had a ball cleared off the line in overtime, but despite having the better of the chances we were forced to settle for the tie.
On Sunday we hosted Providence, and while we had even more chances than we had on Friday night and controlled the run of play throughout the match, we seemed destined to repeat Friday's result. As in the UConn game, we found ourselves having to play from behind when we gave away another early goal. It was exactly the start they had hoped for, and exactly the start we were hoping to avoid. But, we responded well and began increasing the pressure on them. The pressure paid off when Ashley Auld ran onto a through ball in the box and was taken out by the Providence goalkeeper, leaving the referee no option but to award a penalty kick. It was a great opportunity to even the match, but unfortunately Kate Cunningham had her effort saved by the Providence goalkeeper. Just seven minutes later, though, we found our equalizer when Caitlin Rehder fired a low hard shot that the goalkeeper could only manage to deflect, and Giselle Mangal did well to follow up Rehder's shot and finish off the rebound. The score remained tied going into halftime, and in the second half we came out determined to push the play and get the win. We created numerous chances off shots and corner kicks, but in the end we simply could not manage to find the breakthrough we needed. Once again we could only manage a tie in a game that was ours for the taking.
While it would be easy to rue the chances we have let slip by, we remain optimistic that the best is yet to come. Like I said, our results are not a reflection of our ability to play soccer, but instead an inability to take advantage of the chances we have consistently created throughout the year. We have the determination to get back to work this week and make the necessary adjustments to help us put the ball in the back of the net and get the results we are capable of getting in the coming matches.