Although the final score read 2-1 in favor of Welseyan University, there was a wave of optimism among the Anchorwomen players and coaches during the post-match scene near the exit of the RIC Soccer Field.
The game was level at 1-1 for much of the match, and against the same Welseyan side that had beaten a superior WestConn team 3-2. Christina Tavana scored on an incredible 25-yard free kick, and nearly captured a hat trick in when the dead ball specialist clanked the bar and the far post in the 41st and 86th minutes, respectively.
Additionally, the team looked potent with the ball. Chelsea Creamer, despite overcoming a bout of sickness, looked like her usual pesky, yet speedy self up top. Kayla Fleming was a world-beater up top, using her elusive pace to beat the Cardinal defenders all night.
The backs seemed to have picked up their game after dealing with the strike-at-will attack of the WestConn strikers, midfielders, defenders and goalkeeper (just kidding). Hilary Plourde and Claire Harris are starting to become stalwart defenders, Jenna Childs and Danielle Martino are locked in a tense battle for the starting centerback position.
And as an observer, I won't bore you with the usual "this is a better team than their record suggests." Because in all honestly, their record is an accurate assessment of their play thus far. There have been many misteps throughout the season. There are times when the defenders look like their playing musical chairs with their marks. Other times, the midfield looks about as organized as a a drunken pub crawl. In fact, if it wasn't for Maddie Pirri doing her best Oliver Kahn impression in the net, there would be even more disturbing scorelines this season.
But...BUT...if you want to behold a team that is improves right before your eyes, the Anchorwomen are the pack of players you're looking for. Their form has improved considerably since September. What you'll witness is a team that is starting to gel. A team that has found its own form, not the form of its prior, successful clubs. The 4-4-2 is gone. Coach Mike Koperda has installed the 3-5-2, which certainly played a part in having his frosh-filled backline making numerous mistakes.
But they're learning. After all, isn't that the purpose of college in the first place? It doesn't just end when the clock approaches ten of. It continues onto the pitch. These Anchorwomen are learning how to play well, and you can see the improvement before your own eyes. They find what they're made of against regionally-ranked competition. Their confidence is increasing, knowing they can hold their own with these difficult opponents. As a result, the Anchorwomen are quickly becoming a fearless bunch that dwells less on its mistakes, and more on its successes.
In short, they are an exciting team to watch - regardless of the result.
A few random tidbits collected after the match:
-Less than two hours prior to the Wesleyan match, the team discovered that midfielder Kristina Haughey is out for the remainder of the season. The sophomore playmaker tore her ACL during the 7th minute of the WestConn game on Saturday.
-Without Haughey, the Anchorwomen had Flemming in the attacking midfielder/winger role last night. Given the success she had in her new role, look for her to continue that role on Saturday against Keene State.
-Speaking of Keene State, the Anchorwomen are expecting a physical game from the Owls on Saturday afternoon. Although it'll be another welcome home game, the players are bracing themselves for a rough game against the 9-4-0 Owls.