The women’s soccer team took the field at Robins Stadium Friday night against the Longwood Lancers in its first home game of the season. Despite a 0-0 tie, the young Spider back line showed how tough it could be for years to come.
In the first half, the Spiders controlled much of the possession but neither side created any threatening chances. The Spiders outshot the Lancers 7-4 and the young back line turned in a strong defensive performance. The team starts four freshmen (including the goalkeeper) and one sophomore in its defense.
“They’re under a lot of pressure,” coach Peter Albright said, “but they’re getting better every game. I think that they’re going to be real good for a long time.”
The second half was almost identical to the first. Again, the Spiders controlled possession and created a few half chances throughout the 45 minutes. A late surge in the last five minutes came up short and the game continued with two 10-minute overtime periods.
“Longwood is just scrappy,” Albright said, “and they fight all the time. It’s really hard to get started against them, although, I thought we were a little unlucky not to score.”
First year goalkeeper Devin O’Brien made every save that her team needed her to and didn’t allow any rebounds. “I came in knowing I wanted to play,” O’Brien said. “I came out hard during preseason and tried to earn my spot.”
During the first overtime, both sides were visibly fatigued and very few scoring chances were generated. The Spider defense made it look easy all night.
“They’re definitely gaining their confidence,” senior attacker Jensen Smith said of the young defensive players, “and now we’re learning to trust them. They’re very strong, especially our center backs.”
After a quick talk from coach Albright in between overtimes, the Spiders came out flying for the second overtime. Two minutes in, senior Erin Layne struck a ball that had the Lancer keeper beaten but glanced off the post and went wide. One minute later, sophomore Ashley Riefner missed the top corner by inches with a blistering strike.
In the end, the Spiders couldn’t find the net but the result was promising, Albright said. The Spiders outshot the Lancers 27-16 in 110 minutes of action.
“It was great to play at home,” said Albright, “I thought we had a great crowd and it’s always fun to play here.”
The team played without standout senior Becca Wann, who has an undisclosed injury, according to the Richmond athletic department.
According to multiple sources within the women’s soccer team, Wann will miss the rest of the 2013 season. Wann has scored 34 goals in her career and was a NSCAA Division I All-American first team selection in her sophomore season.
“Certainly it’s been a privilege to be her coach,” said Albright, “and to be a part of her career. There are a lot of good memories.”
Wann will not be commenting on her situation until RichmondSpiders.com makes its official press release. The Collegian will follow up on this story.
As for the rest of the team, the Spiders will look to move forward as they take on No. 5 Virginia Sunday in Charlottesville.
Contact sports editor Oliver Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org