ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy women’s soccer team commenced their 2023 season with a promising start, marking a 2-1 victory against Charleston Southern at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility on Thursday night. A 90-minute display of determination resulted in the Mids (1-0) outperforming the Buccaneers (0-1) with a performance that saw 21 Navy players taking to the field.
The Mids broke onto the scoreboard in the 11th minute with a header by Marlee Heaven (So., Rockville, Md.) and maintained pressure throughout the game. The tie was eventually broken in the 66th minute when Alexa Riddle (Jr., Tomball, Texas) scored a decisive goal.
Navy’s head coach Carin Gabarra praised the team’s performance, saying, “We improved in many aspects as the game went on; we got our touch back and we played a little quicker. We’re doing the right things; we’re passing better and our shape is better. Our game fitness is getting there. We’ll continue to work on our pace and getting to know each other on the field.”
Highlighting the depth of the team, Gabarra emphasized that the 21 players who saw action during the game performed well. “I’m really proud of the depth we put out there; 21 players saw action tonight, including a lot of young players. They saw time in tough situations and big moments. Everyone that played today did really well. We gave up a goal late in the first half, but we stuck to it and fought back for a game-winning goal in the second half. I’m really happy with our overall performance.”
The game commenced with an early push from the Mids’ offense, including a Heaven goal set up by Jenna Daunt (Sr., Haymarket, Va.) and Chloe Dawson (Sr., Fairfax, Va.). Navy continued to keep their foot on the offensive pedal as Riddle and Daunt maintained pressure on Charleston Southern’s goalkeeper Jenna Moran.
Charleston Southern found their way back into the game, scoring a game-tying goal in the 40th minute. However, Navy’s defense proved resilient, suffocating the Buccaneers to just one total shot in the second half, which allowed the Mids’ offense to work strategically to regain the lead.
Reflecting on the strategy in the second half, Gabarra commented, “We started pressing higher in the second half so we were winning the ball higher and connecting passes into our attack quicker. Our first touches got better as the game progressed, as did our play off the ball and our overall speed of play. It didn’t matter what 11 we had out there, whoever we rotated in did their job well.”
The victory was a testament to Navy’s cohesive gameplay, enhanced fitness, and adaptable strategies, resulting in a winning start to their season.
The Navy women’s soccer team will return to action at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility when they host St. John’s Red Storm at 1 p.m. on Sunday.