Shepherd women’s soccer jumps out to early lead, holds on to beat Concord

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Senior forward Samantha Leonard, elevated the Rams to victory with her two-goal performance. (Photo courtesy of Shepherd University Athletics Department).

The Rams (3-2-3, 3-1-3 MEC) took down the Mountain Lions (4-5-0, 2-4-0 MEC) Concord by a 2-1 score Wednesday afternoon in Shepherdstown, W.Va.  

Senior forward Samantha Leonard was perhaps the biggest reason why. Leonard got the Rams going early on with her penalty kick goal at the 1:46 mark that came courtesy of a Concord foul in the penalty box.  

Just like that, a costly penalty put the Mountain Lions in a hole early, one that they were not able to come out of. 

That is not to say the Mountain Lions did not make things interesting, however, as the team shot 10 shots at the Rams’ defense and junior goalkeeper Christi Labella. Although more often than not, Labella was up to the challenge, as she posted eight saves in the game to preserve the Rams’ lead. 

Aside from the Rams’ early strike, they found offense hard to come by themselves. The Mountain Lions’ defense played with great pressure and intensity, as the Rams were only able to get off five shots in either half, finishing with 10 for the game. After the early goal, the Rams simply could not find a crease to get by the Mountain Lions’ defense, which put the balance of the game in question. 

Seeking another goal to effectively end the match, Leonard scored her second goal by converting a beautiful pass from senior defender Brianna Gorman into another goal at the 88:09 mark, sending the ball past the Mountain Lions’ goalkeeper Katie Maher, a freshman. This gave the Rams what seemed to be an insurmountable lead. 

However, junior forward Pilar Elias of the Mountain Lions had other ideas. She and the rest of the Mountain Lions did not go down without a fight, as just over a minute later, at the 89:10 mark in the game, Elias scored a goal thanks to an excellent pass from sophomore midfielder Ali Cook. 

The Rams’ lead was trimmed to a 2-1 score with precious time remaining for the Mountain Lions. Recognizing the situation at hand, the Rams settled down and executed well to end the game. They did not allow the Mountain Lions to get another shot off during this short time frame, ending the match. 

Maher recorded one save for the Mountain Lions, but only three of the Rams’ 10 total shots were on goal. She was unable to protect the net against Leonard, who frustrated the Mountain Lions’ defense as a whole with her stellar play. 

The Mountain Lions had 16 shots in the contest, but could not sustain this level of output throughout the game. On the defensive side, the Rams held the Mountain Lions in check for nearly the whole match, but had the late slip up at the end. 

In terms of corner kick opportunities, the Rams had just one attempt in this department, while the Mountain Lions had six themselves. These were great chances for the Mountain Lions to score a goal, but time and time again they could not get the ball past the Rams’ defense when they needed to.  

Right now, the Rams currently sit by themselves in third place in the Mountain East Conference standings. West Virigina Wesleyan (8-0-1, 7-0-0 MEC) and Notre Dame (Ohio) (7-1-0, 7-0-0 MEC) have a hold of first and second place, respectively.  

On Saturday afternoon, the Rams will host Notre Dame (Ohio), looking to win their second match in a row. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. 

Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at abrack02@rams.shepeherd.edu