Fernandez (22), pictured here earlier this season, displayed great senior leadership by coming through with the game's only goal in a game that the Rams had to win (Photo courtesy of Shepherd University Athletics Department)

Shepherd Women’s Soccer Team gets first win of season over Urbana

The Rams (1-2-1, 1-1-1 MEC) got their first win of the season Thursday afternoon after recording a 1-0 road victory over the Blue Knights (1-4-0, 1-3-0 MEC) of Urbana University. 

Senior defender/midfielder Danielle Fernandez came through with the early spark the Rams needed to steal a road victory. Fernandez launched a shot from 20 yards out and sent it into the upper left corner of the net at the 33:42 mark off of a nice feed from teammate Katherine Eddy, a freshman defender.  

This gave the Rams an early 1-0 lead that the team would not relinquish. 

Ironically, the defense set up the only goal of the match, while also helping to make sure that no goals were allowed. Throughout the game, the Rams’ defensive lineup made life difficult for the Blue Knights’ offense, surrendering just 10 shots in the contest. 

Head coach Jonathan Thayill of the Rams made an interesting lineup formation that he implemented in the game, putting just three defenders back by the goal and clogging the middle of the field with five midfielders.  

This gave the Blue Knights all kinds of fits, as they were unable to find a way through the Rams’ defense. 

Of the three shots that were on goal and came her way, Rams’ junior goalkeeper Christi Labella was more than ready. Labella posted three critical saves to preserve the road shutout. 

The Blue Knights were really only able to put pressure on Labella in the first thirty minutes of the game, as Labella recorded all of her saves within this thirty-minute time frame. Until the Rams found their footing, Labella bailed the team out time and time again.  

In the second half, the Blue Knights were only able to get off three shots against the stingy Rams’ defense.  

Sophomore midfielder Alyssa Garberich and freshman forward Alyssa Edwards were the central attack options for the Blue Knights, as they did not let the Rams’ defense relax.  

However, out of the seven shots they sent combined, only two of them were on target, thanks in large part to the pressure and intensity that the Rams’ defense displayed. What they were able to do was to make the Rams’ defense stay on their toes and not get comfortable.  

Needing a late answer, Garberich sent a shot high over the goal at the 83:44 mark that could have potentially tied the game. Later, at the 88:43 point in the game, Garberich had a chance to redeem herself by taking a late corner kick.  

Sadly for the Blue Knights, the Rams’ defense stiffened again, as the Rams’ defense cleared the ball out of harms’ way and effectively ended any chance the Blue Knights had at coming back.   

The Blue Knights could not generate many corner kick opportunities as well, as the Rams held a slight 3-2 edge in this department.  

In the game, the Rams posted 16 shots, which to date is their highest output of the young season. The Rams displayed good ball movement and were able to get off a decent number of shots, but only three of them were on target.  

However, on this particular day, Fernandez’ goal would be all that the Rams would need to come out with an important and impressive road win.  

Sophomore goalkeeper Katherine Beech fought hard all game long for the Blue Knights, manning the net well with her three saves in the defensive showdown.  

Senior forward Samantha Leonard kept the Blue Knights on their heels with her three shot attempts. Sophomore defender Elishia Davis gave the Rams a good boost of energy off of the bench with her three shot attempts.  

The Rams will look to win their second straight game on Sunday afternoon when they host Charleston at 3:30 p.m. on RAACE Day in Shepherdstown. 

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

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