The University of Richmond women's soccer team fought its way to a 1-0 win over Liberty University Sunday night at Robins Stadium to tally its third win in four games.
Richmond had 28 shots against Liberty's seven, but physical play kept the team from capitalizing on more of those opportunities, head coach Peter Albright said.
"The referee allowed physical play all night, which really disadvantaged us," Albright said. "It was a really messy game. I was disappointed we weren't cleaner on the ball."
Three players were given yellow cards during play, including Richmond's Becca Wann and Ashley Williams.
Wann dealt with heavy pressure from Liberty defenders all game after scoring both goals on Friday night's win over nationally ranked William and Mary.
Although Wann didn't scored against Liberty, her impact was still felt, Albright said. "Becca continues to set the standard for effort and commitment on this team," he said.
With Wann kept at bay, her teammates went on the offensive.
In the 23rd minute of play, defender Lindsay Wicher connected with Wann in the box who then flicked a pass to the back post to forward Jensen Smith who placed the ball in the back of the net, putting the Spiders up 1-0.
The goal is the first of the season for Smith, who was moved from an outside midfielder position to a more attacking position at forward this year.
"I've been working with the coaches on being more aggressive," she said. "They have been helping me attack more and understand how to play this new position."
Other Spider standouts included forward LeighAnne Baxter and goalkeeper Melissa Pacheco, Albright said.
In the 75th minute of play Wicher was called for a foul in the box, which gave Liberty player Laura Nyholt a penalty kick.
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Nyholt shot the ball hard, to the lower left corner of the goal, but Pacheco made a diving save to block the ball out of play and keep the score at 1-0.
"That block kept the game in the win column for us," Albright said.
Richmond was able to close out the remaining 15 minutes of play even through a plague of foul calls and feisty play from both teams, something that Smith sees as a promising sign, she said.
"We were able to hold on to the win and that's huge for us," she said. "We have really struggled with closing games and giving up goals in the final minutes of play. Checo's save was so important and gave us a burst of confidence and energy we needed to finish strong."
Although the team walks away with a win, Albright said he was left exhausted and frustrated after the game.
"We are starting to find out who we are as a team," he said. "We are about to head out on the road so we need to keep this going."
The Spiders will face Western Carolina University at 6 p.m. on Friday in Wilmington, N.C.
Contact reporter Rachael Bilney at email@example.com
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