It was perhaps fitting during Friday's Senior Night that a senior, Jessie Wolfe, scored a goal during the women's soccer team's 2-1 victory over George Washington University.
But in a sign the four-year veterans and leaders are leaving an even stronger program behind, it was a freshman who scored the game-winning goal, delivering a crucial win that kept the Spiders' chances of an Atlantic-10 tournament bid alive.
Wolfe scored the University of Richmond's first goal 26 seconds into the second half, drilling her shot into the upper-right corner of the net after assists from senior Sarah Hilt and junior Jen Ruhe.
Freshman Kat Russell gave the Spiders a second goal just 18 seconds later. She intercepted a long pass from Hilt, beat a Colonial defender, and was able to loft the ball over the George Washington's freshman goalie, Lindsey Rowe.
"We could hear them [George Washington] yelling and screaming at half," said Richmond coach Peter Albright. "We wanted to come out with energy. It was the best we've come out in the second half all year."
The Spider seniors honored before the game included forward Julia Bizer, backs Sarah Hilt and Susan Boyer, forward Melanie Varga and Wolfe, a midfielder.
The Colonials and the Spiders entered the game with identical 3-5-0 records in the A-10 and were tied for eighth in the standings. With the win, the Spiders increased their point total to 11 against conference teams.
Depending on game outcomes of the University of Massachusetts and St. Bonaventure -- teams that on Friday were tied for sixth with 10 points in the A-10 -- the Spiders could move into sole possession of sixth place after Friday's win.
While Senior Night is emotional, Albright said the game was important because the team was vying to qualify for the A-10 tournament.
To keep their possibilities for a tournament berth, the Spiders must win their remaining two conference games. They play at Temple University Oct. 31 and close their regular season with a game at Saint Joseph's University on Nov. 2.
"The four losses [in a row] dug ourselves into a big hole," Wolfe said. "We have to take it one game at a time and the next two games will be big."
George Washington head coach Tanya Vogel was ejected from the game during the 30th minute. She was initially given a yellow card for stepping onto the field, but said something to the referee, who then issued her a red card to throw her out of the game.
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Assistant coach Neel Bhattacharjee took over coaching duties for the Colonials, and Vogel will be suspended for the team's next game.
The Spiders had a rough start to the game. George Washington senior Meg Pyle deflected the Colonials' first shot of the game off the crossbar.
"We stayed in celebration mode ten minutes too long," said Albright, referring to Senior Night jubilation. "GW started the game without us."
Still, it was not until the final minute of the game that the Colonials were able to score. Senior Kerry Philbin made an unassisted goal with 13 seconds left in the game.
Ruhe, the Spider junior with the first-goal assist, left the game in the second half with what appeared to be a leg injury. She was not able to return to the game, and the extent of the injury was not immediately known afterward.
The Spiders travel to Virginia Military Institute to play their final non-conference game at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Contact staff writer Andrew Prezioso at firstname.lastname@example.org
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