On Oct. 28, the white hot Shepherd Rams (7-7-3, 5-3-2 WVIAC) faced the Charleston Golden Eagles (7-8-3, 5-3-2 WVIAC) in the first round of the WVIAC playoffs.
They lost, 2-1. The Rams came into the game riding after winning four straight along with three shutouts in a row. Coincidentally, this was the first goal they allowed since they beat Charleston on Oct. 17, 2-1.
Charleston took the reins when senior midfielder Elyse Surbaugh scored on an assist from junior forward Brittany Loveland at 7:12.
Sophomore defender Danielle Roos received a red card in the 43rd minute as Shepherd headed into the half down 1-0. They played a man down the entire second half.
Times got tougher for the Rams when the Golden Eagles’ insurance goal came off an own goal by Shepherd at 48:10. A cross kick was blocked by a Shepherd defender into her own net.
Junior defender Kelsey Eagan attempted to spark a comeback late in the second half when she scored on a free kick at 62:25. This time, though, there was no late game magic. Charleston held on to upset Shepherd.
Charleston held the advantage in shots, 17-12, as well as corner kicks, 3-2.
Junior goalkeeper Elizabeth Wise had five saves for the Rams, while Golden Eagles freshman Courtney Budd grabbed one save.
Later that same day, junior forward Morgan Gabriel received WVIAC player of the week honors, leading the Rams to a 2-0 record for the previous week with her three goals.
Charleston improved to 8-8-3 and advanced to the semifinals against the Alderson-Broaddus Battlers. They won 2-1 and went on to face West Virginia Wesleyan on Nov. 4 for the WVIAC title. At the time of this article, the game had yet to be played.
Shepherd finishes the season 7-8-3. This is the third time in seven seasons the Rams have made the WVIAC tournament, and each time they lost in the first round. The last two seasons were both to the Golden Eagles.
They should keep their chins up because they made the playoffs with a very young team that sported only seven upperclassmen—six juniors and one senior. The future remains bright for the Rams and coach Jonathon Thayil. They hope to get even better next season.