By: Adam Tortelli ~Staff Writer~
Already two games into its season, the women’s soccer team has shown signs of promise during its rough start as it begins anew in this fall.
Two tough losses came as part of the James Madison Invitational in Harrisonburg, Virginia to kick-off the new season.
The season’s less-than-ideal start began Friday against host team James Madison University (JMU). Junior midfielder Catherine Allon netted a goal early in the first half to give the Muskies an early 1-0 advantage over the Dukes.
Less than 10 minutes passed before this lead quickly vanished following an equalizer by JMU’s Katie Hyland.
Shortly thereafter, the Dukes took control for the rest of the game.
The Musketeers failed to produce offensively but for the remainder of the game played sound defense.
Xavier resiliently battled the remainder of the match by withstanding a total of 13 shots by the home team (largely credited by senior goalkeeper Ashley Markesbery’s four saves), but could not find the back of the net before the final buzzer’s sound.
Things only got worse a couple of days later with a 2-0 loss to Towson. Markesbery added four more saves in the first half to aid a 0-0 tie at the break.
Midway through the second half, Towson’s Taylor Kiner headed a ball into the goal.
Woody Sherwood’s defense endured seven second half shots to keep the team within reach before Towson’s Natalia Pinkney netted a corner shot in the game’s final minute.
Despite a larger goal differential, the ladies played with more energy which showed promise and resulted in an abundance of opportunities that unfortunately resulted in a loss.
Next up is a trip to take on the University of Toledo Rockets on Sunday. This will be the third of a five game road trip that starts the season. Women’s soccer makes its 2014 home debut Sept. 7 against Ohio Northern University.
Other notable games include matches against conference opponents beginning on Sept. 25 when the ladies host St. John’s and the Oct. 5 trip to Milwaukee, to face Big East favorite Marquette University.
Last season, Xavier women’s soccer displayed an elite defense that finished in the top-end of the competitive Big East.
However, lesser play from the attacking end of the field held the team back to a 9-8-1 record.
While this was the first time since 2005 that the program finished above the .500 mark, just a few more goals would have gone a long way in the season’s outcome.
After one season in the new Big East, Xavier women’s soccer has already proven that it deserves to play along some of the nation’s best (Georgetown and Marquette are top-25 ranked).
Now it looks to establish themselves as a power beyond the competitive Big East Conference