Anthony Bracken, Sports Editor
The Shepherd Rams’ (0-1) women’s soccer team fell on the road to the fourth-ranked Golden Bears (2-0) of Kutztown Saturday afternoon, losing by a 3-0 score.
Getting shots on goal was a tremendous challenge for the Rams, as they were unable to penetrate the Golden Bears’ stiff defense. The Rams finished with just three total shots for the game. Goalkeeper McKenna Zerbe of the Golden Bears faced little pressure (if any) the whole game, recording just one save in the game.
The Golden Bears were able to move the ball with relative success against the Rams’ defense in the first half, as the team launched eight shots in the direction of the Rams’ junior goalkeeper Christi LaBella.
Only one of the shots went in, but that proved to be enough to come out with a win Saturday afternoon. Midfielder Kate Martin sent a pass in the air to her teammate Chelsea Faddio, a forward, who headed the ball to the back of the net to give the Golden Bears a 1-0 lead at the 25:43 mark of the first half.
The Golden Bears only had three shots in the second half, but two of them would be converted into goals that would stretch their lead to 3-0.
Forward Emily Zwiercan assisted on the first of these goals with a pass to forward Randi Smith, who blasted the ball into the goal at the 51:45 mark in the second half.
Frustrations were mounting at this point, as the Rams had no answer for the Golden Bears’ attack, or how to form a counter attack of their own.
Later, Martin was on the receiving end of a beautiful pass from midfielder/forward Alyssa Ryan. Ryan’s pass set up Martin in good position, as she sent the ball past Labella to secure the 3-0 victory for the Golden Bears at the 63:05 mark in the second half.
All game long, the Rams could not get the offensive spark they needed. Corner kicks are one source of generating offense, but the Rams only had one corner kick opportunity the whole game.
Senior midfielder/forward Taylor Harwood has the most notable offensive performance for the Rams, as she was able to get two shots off against the stifling defense of the Golden Bears.
The Golden Bears out-shot the Rams 11-3 in the contest, as they made the most of their opportunities. Defenders Kristina Miller, Kaylee Kupiec, Anna Hull, and Erica Monte Carlo all played a vital role in the game’s outcome, as they never let the Rams’ get into the offensive rhythm they needed to get into, creating havoc the entire game.
After the game, head coach Jonathan Thayill of the Rams talked about how it felt to get back out on the field for the team’s first game of the season:
“It is always good to be back in a competitive match after a long pre-season. Kutztown does a great job hosting visiting teams, so it felt great! The team was a little nervous considering our opponent, but we settled in once the game started. As a coaching staff, we were happy with many things we saw today, though [we are] disappointed in the result.”
The pace of the game was very fast according to Thayill:
“The game was pretty quick, they are a very good team and we had to try and contain their midfield. The ball was moving pretty quickly in the first half, and the second half got progressively physical. The ball was in the air a lot, more than we would like it to be.”
Thayill did see some bright spots for the Rams, but overall saw a need to improve in maintaining possession:
“We struggled early in the game to keep the ball, and we struggled to get enough pressure on the ball, especially on the second and third goal. I thought our intensity was pretty good, and we started moving the ball through midfield more as the game progressed. I was most proud of how we fought for 90 minutes, and the spirit of our team against a team that played in the national semi-final last season.”
The Rams will try to improve on the offensive side of the ball in particular when they next hit the field against West Liberty in their home opener Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in Shepherdstown.
Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at email@example.com