GW Women’s Soccer Opens Season with Draw against UMBC | WRGW Sports

GW Women’s Soccer Opens Season with Draw against UMBC | WRGW Sports

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By Liam O’Murchu

GW women’s soccer kicked off their season with a 1-1 draw against UMBC on a stereotypical hot August DC Thursday afternoon in August. The Colonials (0-0-1) had the better of the play for stretches of the game but the Retrievers (0-0-1) played stout defense and rode a strong performance from senior goalkeeper Morgan McGruder.

“I think [we played with] really good energy from the start.” GW Head Coach Michelle Demko said. “I think in terms of pressing the game, pressing their backline and asking them to solve our pressure, that was one of the things that we asked our group to do.”

Graduate student forward Rachel Sorkenn opened the scoring for GW in the 25th minute following a knocked down cross by freshman forward Jessica Robbert. Sorkenn wasted no time getting back on the scoresheet after 17 months off the field due to injury. She brought the ball down, fired it towards goal, and benefitted from a deflection off a UMBC defender, sending McGruder the wrong way.

“It felt awesome [to play again].” Sorkenn said. “I had a previous injury where coming back was hard. But this one I feel like I worked really hard, and I was determined to get back. So I felt like myself out there.”

The Retrievers leveled it in the 43rd minute thanks to a well executed set piece. Graduate student midfielder Lola Negrete dropped a corner kick right on top of GW redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Tia Harrison, allowing junior forward Meghan McKye to rise up and head it home.

The teams traded blows throughout the second half, with neither team having any clear cut scoring chances but both teams advancing into the final third. Sorkenn continued to show her skill, holding the ball up and playing incisive balls behind the defense. The Colonials were doing well to get crosses in the box but struggled to get on the end of these passes.

Freshmen Avril Silva and Aoi Kataoka both got into dangerous positions in their collegiate debuts. Silva, an outside back, made countless surging runs down the wing, whipping crosses into the box. Meanwhile, Kataoka looked dangerous nearly every time she got on the ball, showcasing her sleek dribbling and passing abilities.

Kataoka parlayed this into a drawn penalty in the 86th minute following a head to head collision with sophomore defender Annie Grove.

(**Editor’s note: I didn’t think it warranted a penalty. Grove was genuinely going for the ball. It’s what I’d describe as a ‘bang bang play’ and I think it’s unfair to decide a game on something like that.**)

However, McGruder came up huge for the Retrievers, saving the penalty taken by senior midfielder Isabelle Eskay. The Damascus, MD native went for power, striking the ball low and down the middle but McGruder was equal to it, mustering an impressive kick save.

The Colonials continued to pepper the UMBC goal after switching their formation with nine minutes left but were unable to get past McGruder.

“The final piece for us is obviously now getting on the end of it, and putting a goal in the back of the net.” Demko said.

If this game took place last season, it would have gone to extra time. But due to an NCAA rule change eliminating regular season extra time, it ended as a draw in regulation. In fact, this was the first regulation draw in the entirety of college soccer since the rule changed.

The Colonials return to the field at home on Sunday against a William & Mary team that opened their season with a thrilling 4-3 loss to Virginia Tech. Kick off is slated for 1PM and the game can be streamed on ESPN+.

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