ANNAPOLIS, Md. – In a women’s soccer matchup of clashing styles, the defensive-minded Loyola Greyhounds came away with a 1-0 victory over the aggressive attacking Navy Midshipmen on Wednesday night at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility.
The two teams came into the mid-week Patriot League showdown on completely different ends of the soccer spectrum as the Mids (4-3-3, 1-1 PL) were riding high after an emphatic 4-0 win over Bucknell last Friday night, while the Greyhounds (5-3-2, 2-0 PL) had posted four straight shutouts. In an evenly-matched contest, a Zoe Willis goal off of a corner kick in the 74th minute proved to be the decisive play as the visitors held on for their second league win and fifth straight clean sheet.
“Loyola is a very disciplined team that knows how to defend and get numbers behind the ball,” remarked head coach Carin Gabarra. “We knew tonight’s game would likely come down to execution on a set piece. We gave up a few corner kicks when we didn’t need to. They’re a very physical team; we didn’t match that well. They took us out of our game; that’s our fault and a credit to them.
“We defended well, but we just didn’t keep the ball. We’re a possession team, and we like to keep the ball, build and attack with numbers. We didn’t keep the ball like we know how to, and it limited our chances. That was likely something they wanted to disrupt, and they did a good job of that. We didn’t play the style that we’d normally choose to play.”
The action on Wednesday night opened very evenly, with the teams playing freely up and down the pitch at Glenn Warner. Over the initial 20 minutes of the game, both teams were credited with two shots each, though none of the attempts were on target. Navy’s first real test of Loyola’s defense came in the 22nd minute when Caitlin Doran (Sr., Queens, N.Y.) burst through the Greyhounds’ defense and took a shot blocked late by a defender from the side and resulting in a corner kick for the Mids.
Loyola had an answer of its own less than five minutes later as Baylee DeSmit sprinted around a Navy defender and put a low shot on goal that forced Mattie Gallagher (Jr., Gilbertsville, Pa.) into action with a diving save.
Kat Healey (Jr., King George, Va.) recorded another high-percentage look for the Mids in the 37th minute when she one-timed a rebounded ball just left of the goal.
At the half, Navy was outshooting Loyola, 7-4, with a 2-1 advantage in shots on goal.
Coming out of the locker room, the Mids immediately took aim at the Greyhounds as Jenna Daunt (Jr., Haymarket, Va.) slotted a pass to Alexa Riddle (So., Tomball, Texas) up the wing and saw Riddle rip a shot wide of goal in the 47th minute.
With the score still knotted at 0-0, Gallagher was called upon multiple times to continue the clean sheet effort over the next 25-plus minutes. In the 53rd minute, she turned aside a Payton Hurley shot before denying Sarah Mirr in the 73rd.
The visitors finally broke the scoreless draw at 73:57 when DeSmit’s corner kick was met with a diving header by Ada Clara Tempert before Zoe Willis re-directed the shot away from the on-coming Gallagher.
The defensive-minded Greyhounds allowed just one shot by the Mids for the remainder of the game, as Paige Sim didn’t have a problem-saving Katie Herrmann’s (Jr., Charlotte, N.C.) attempt in the 85th minute.
Gallagher made sure the one-goal deficit didn’t increase over the final five minutes as she dove to her right and pushed aside a well-struck DeSmit shot that had eyes for the lower corner of the goal in the 86th minute.
For the game, Loyola outshot Navy, 12-11, with a 5-3 edge in shots on goal. The visitors recorded one more corner kick than the Mids, 4-3.
The Mids will continue their tough opening Patriot League slate with a road tilt on Saturday afternoon in Massachusetts with a matchup against Boston University at 1 p.m.
“Boston is one of the better teams in the conference year-in, year-out, so we’re in for another tough test on Saturday,” said Gabarra in closing. “It’s not an easy trip to make way up there. We’ll have to rebound from tonight; we’ll have to learn and get better.”