Women's soccer falls at A-10s
A good year for the women’s soccer team ended last weekend with a loss to the Fordham Rams in the opening round of the Atlantic 10 Championships.
The women earned a bid in the tournament with a 6-2-1 conference record, but they failed to make it past the first round after dropping a 3-2 decision on Thursday.
The normally stingy defense, which allowed only 1.15 goals per game in the regular season, could not stop the relentless Rams, who fired 13 shots in the contest.
The Explorers were up 2-0 after just 23 minutes of play, but were unable to hold on to the lead. Fordham got on the board before halftime, but still trailed at the midway point.
La Salle held the lead for a good portion of the second half. But the Rams’ pressure was finally able to beat both the defense and goalkeeper Amy Grant twice in the 71st and 72nd minutes to take the lead.
La Salle suffered a heart-breaking loss to Fordham earlier in the season in a 2-1 double overtime defeat. That loss ended a four-game winning streak for the women, but this one is even harder to swallow.
Junior Kristin Hextall scored both goals for the Explorers. Hextall was the main focus on La Salle’s offense this season, as she had team highs in goals (seven), assists (six), points (20) and game-winning goals (three).
Hextall, who suffered a broken toe in the preseason, really turned it on in Atlantic 10 games.
“She took the conference by storm,” Royal said.
The star forward was snubbed from All-Conference honors this year, but her numbers dictate otherwise.
“We were really surprised that she didn’t get anything,” Royal said. “But I’m sure she’ll use it as inspiration and come back strong next year.”
While Hextall was undoubtedly overlooked by the A-10, several Explorers were honored by the conference. Junior defender Jenna Guagenti earned First Team honors. Sophomore goalie Amy Grant was named to the Second Team, and junior midfielder Kim Lisun received an Honorable Mention. Also, junior Michelle Verzi was named to the A-10’s All Academic Team, and freshman Ally Kenney was named to the All-Rookie Team.
While Kenney was the only player named to the All-Rookie Team, all of the freshmen played a key role for this Explorer team. Four others besides Kenney recorded a point for La Salle this year, and almost all made at least one start.
“The young players definitely came in and stepped up,” Royal said of his freshmen.
Starters such as Kenney, Melanie Gamble, Becky McGuigan and Carissa Philips will continue to play at a high level for the Explorer defense.
Dana Giordano led the way for the sophomores, with six goals and two assists. Grant had a stellar season in net, with a miniscule 1.13 goals against average in 14 games.
Only three players—Shelby Reese, Heather Barclay and Ashley Cassel—will be graduating this year. Cassel and Reese were team captains this season, and all three players will be missed next year.
“The seniors did a tremendous job this year with their training and work ethic,” Royal said. “Now it’s up to the newer players to assume leadership roles.”
However, this means that almost the entire team is returning for the 2007 season. Hextall, Guagenti, Lisun and Verzi will be seniors next year. With a strong core of leaders, the team should once again fight for an Atlantic 10 post-season spot.
The women now look forward to next season with a taste for victory, and La Salle fans can bet that next year’s team will be hungry for an A-10 crown.
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