On Sunday, the Big East and Colonial Athletic Association teams switched off against each other. William & Mary faced Georgetown in the first game and shocked the Hoyas, 3-0. Then James Madison took on Seton Hall and prevailed easily, 5-0.
William & Mary 3, Georgetown 0
The first few minutes of this game were kind of ugly. The Tribe couldn’t complete passes and kept turning the ball over in midfield, while the Hoyas had a near-disastrous moment when a defender stepped in the way of goalkeeper Emma Newins’ clearance. As was a theme throughout the match, William & Mary gave up two corner kicks in the first three minutes, but Georgetown was unable to capitalize on either, despite a strong shot off the first one from Taylor Pak that goalkeeper Caroline Casey had to save.
William & Mary took just nine minutes to get on the scoreboard when Nicole Baxter sent a high ball in to Rachel Moore in the goalmouth, who headed it in past Newins from point-blank range.
Four minutes Georgetown had one of their trademark scoring opportunities, a beautiful through ball to the feet of Crystal Thomas, but she hesitated just enough for the defense to catch up to her.
Shortly after that a poor Georgetown backpass rolled between the central defenders. Speedy Tribe forward Samantha Cordum got there first and had an open shot, but Newins made a leaping save to redirect the ball wide.
Georgetown would have three more corner kicks in the half, along with two free kicks that were practically corner kicks, but the closest success was Rachel Corboz just missing an Olimpico by a couple of feet, sending the ball barely over the crossbar.
The Hoyas would have another chance in the 41st minute off a beautiful feed to Zoe Park, but she would send her shot wide.
The half looked to be ending 1-0 but with less than a minute left a William & Mary player was taken down just inside the right-hand edge of the box. The referee unhesitatingly pointed to the penalty spot. Baxter stepped up to take it and fired it in about halfway to the right with way too much speed and power for Newins to do anything more than watch it go by.
Georgetown had the better chances early in the second half. In the 49th minute, Grace Damaska fired a shot toward the near post, but Casey was right there. Six minutes later, another Corboz corner kick was headed toward goal, redirected back out, then sent back in by Marina Paul, but Casey made a superb leaping reaction save to deny her.
The Tribe would give the Hoyas a taste of their own medicine in the 79th minute, Baxter sending an absolutely perfect through ball between defenders and ahead of Cordum, who rocketed past the back line and tucked the ball into the lower right corner.
That would give the final result of 3-0. By some of the numbers Georgetown had the advantage: 11 corner kicks to 2 for William & Mary and 17 shots to 6, but shots on goal were fairly even – 5 to 4 – and 3 of William & Mary’s went in.
Goalkeeper Caroline Casey – who was named tournament MVP just a few weeks after helping the Washington Spirit Reserves to the W-League championship – talked about the keys to the win. “I think the key was just finally putting all the pieces together. We’ve been working on different groups in terms of our functionality – midfield, defense – and I think today we just put it all together. We worked as a unit. It wasn’t one person who stood out. We were all working hard individually and as a team, and I think that’s what made the difference.”
Defender Leci Irvin, who’s played for the Reserves the past two summers, made some technical comments about strategy but mostly noted the team intensity. “We really just wanted the win. I’ve never seen us that determined to get a win before. It was definitely a good feeling.”
Head coach John Daly was pleased with the weekend. “We didn’t play as well as we would have liked on Friday. But we scored goals early and were able to get players into the game and rest players knowing that today was going to be a tough game. We got a good start today, first goal from Rachel. I thought we played very well defensively. I thought that was the key. They really weren’t able to break us down. We could have had maybe one more goal, but when you play a team like Georgetown and win 3-0, that’s really quite an accomplishment.”
And of course I had to ask him about Braddock Road’s Rachel Moore and Elysse Branton. “They’re both superb players. I thought Rachel’s defending dropped off a bit in the second half, took her out, had a word with her about it, what we needed from her was to get more involved defensively. We know what she can do offensively. And she did. She went back in, and she won balls. She did really well.
“Elysse is just superb. She knows the game. She makes good decisions, gives maybe about 5% of her passes away, which is a pretty good figure, so really happy with both of them.”
Baxter, Cordum, and defender Clara Logsdon were also named to the all-tournament team for William & Mary. Georgetown’s Damaska, Pak, and Elizabeth Wenger were likewise honored.
James Madison 5, Seton Hall 0
This was a seriously lopsided game. The Dukes finished with 20 shots, 9 on goal, while the Pirates had just 3 shots with none on target.
It took 12 minutes for the first score. Around the top of the box, Alyssa Zurlo passed the ball to her left to Kelly Kerrigan, who sent it right back, and Zurlo rolled it into the lower left corner.
The goal of the tournament came in the 17th minute. A James Madison free kick sailed into the box about 12 yards out, and goalkeeper Anna MacLean came running out to grab it. But a defender cleared it before she could get there, unfortunately for Seton Hall sending it right to Allie Bunner, who one-touched it in over everyone from almost 25 yards out.
The third goal would take until the 66th minute. Ashley Herndon fired in a shot that was saved, but the rebound came to Colleen Gawkins, who put it away.
Two minutes later, Christine Tack got the ball at the center stripe with space in front of her. She was able to bring the ball all the way into the left side of the box, where she crossed it to Zurlo, who had an easy putaway.
The final goal came in the 89th minute, a Nicole Caston corner kick coming to Herndon at the far post, who sent it back in where Chessa Ramirez put it in from point-blank range.
Herndon was happy with the weekend. “We got a good result against Georgetown – not what we wanted but a good start. I think we could have won that game. But the win tonight’s got us started.”
I asked JMU head coach Dave Lombardo about Herndon, who’s played for the Spirit Reserves/DC United Women all five years of their existence. “She’s a special player. We were excited to get her here as part of the program, and she’s been one of our mainstay players since she’s been here. She’s dynamic. She’s exciting to watch play. She’s a competitor. You can’t ask for much more than that.”
Herndon, Bunner, and Zurlo were the JMU players named to the all-tournament team, while Amanda Gulli and Emily Hansinger received that honor for Seton Hall.