Shepherd women’s soccer loses by a 1-0 score in defensive showdown against #10 West Virginia Wesleyan

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Senior midfielder/forward Taylor Harwood, pictured here earlier this season, and the Rams played well defensively, but struggled to get past the Bobcats' defense all night long. (Photo courtesy of Shepherd University's Athletics Department).

On Friday evening, the Rams (4-3-4, 4-2-4 MEC) fell on the road to the Bobcats (11-0-1, 10-0-0 MEC) by a 1-0 score. The Rams were engaged in a defensive showdown with the Hilltoppers, but had one defensive slip up that ended up costing them the match. 

Bobcats’ freshman forward Carolyn Saulle scored the game’s first and only goal at the 39:29 mark that came from passes courtesy of junior forward Audrey Barber, who placed a nice pass to sophomore defender/midfielder Marissa Zetty, who then crossed it over to Saulle. Saulle received the cross from Zetty and sent the ball to the back of the net past Rams’ junior goalkeeper Christi Labella to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead near the end of the first half.  

Zetty was credited with the assist on the play.  

Labella did allow the goal, but she held her own in the goal for the vast majority of the game. She recorded four saves, but the defense stepped up for large durations of the game as well, as only three of the Bobcats’ 14 shots were on goal.  

The defensive pressure the Rams put on the Bobcats’ offense was reciprocated by the Bobcats’ defense on the Rams’ offense. 

During the course of the match, the Rams were only able to get off four shots, with three of them being on goal as well. 

Wherever the Rams’ offense tried to move the ball, the stiff Bobcats’ defense was there and ready for the challenge, continually shutting down the Rams’ attack. 

However, the Rams did have there chances. Sophomore forward/midfielder Brogan Pifer sent a shot high at the 40:20 mark in the game that could have given the Rams the goal they needed to tie the game. 

Earlier in the half, senior defender Brianna Gorman had her shot saved by the Bobcats’ sophomore goalkeeper Ashlee Schumaker, who had just this one save in the match. 

Fellow sophomore goalkeeper Chelsea Hubner came into the goal for the Bobcats in the second half to help close the game out. Hubner posted two crucial saves to preserve the 1-0 win for the Bobcats. 

The first of these saves came off the foot of Rams’ freshman midfielder Emma Barnardoni at the 73:41 mark, who could not quite get it past Hubner when it mattered most. 

Even with a 1-0 lead, the Bobcats were still looking for further separation room from the Rams in the second half. During a near six and a half minute span, Labella made two enormous saves to keep the game in balance for the Rams. 

Amy Stewart has the first of these shots at the 66:04 mark in the game, as she snuck a shot by the Rams’ defense, but Labella was there to make the save. At the 72:28 mark in the game, Labella stopped another Bobcats’ shot, this time off the foot of Barber. The Bobcats were never able to get a second goal that would have essentially sealed the game.  

Later on in the second half, at the 86:56 mark, with both sides feeling high levels of tension, Rams freshman defender Katherine Eddy had a chance to send home a goal that would tie the match and likely result in overtime. Sadly for the Rams, Hubner made another clutch save, effectively ending the contest. 

The Rams were not able to gain much penetration against the Bobcats’ defense, as they mustered no corner kick opportunities to go along with their four shots in the game.  

As the second half wore on, both sides were playing very scrappy. For the game, the Bobcats had 11 fouls compared to the Rams’ 10. On a day where not much was going right offensively for the Rams, frustration naturally set in.  

This is the first loss for the Rams in their last seven games, as all of the other games during this time have either been a win or a tie. 

Currently, the Rams are in third place in the Mountain East Conference standings, trailing only Notre Dame (Ohio) (8-2-1, 8-1-1 MEC). This loss will likely hurt the Rams’ chances at gaining any progress in moving up the rest of the season in the conference standings. 

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