The Spiders’ tough defense and a late-game goal led them to a 1-0 victory in a hard-fought conference game against University of Massachusetts.
Richmond came into the game with a 5-4-1 record, having lost two straight games against West Virginia and Duquesne.
“The conference is very even and very tight,” head coach Peter Albright said. “Competition for spots in the postseason tournament is intense. We are feeling like we have to get points every weekend and we are back in the playoff hunt.”
In the 75th minute, Richmond’s Ashley Gross crossed the ball to sophomore Keaira Clark in the middle of the field. Clark scored, breaking a long stalemate with the game’s lone goal.
It was her first goal of the season and second of her collegiate career.
Clark credited the goal to her teammates’ ability to pass the ball and put her in a position to succeed, calling it “a good team play.”
“The combination of Clark’s goal and player movement was beautiful,” Albright said. “It looked easy but there was a lot of skillful soccer involved.”
For the majority of the game, both teams struggled to gain momentum and find shots, as the defenders dominated.
“We were not creating many chances,” Albright said. “We had some shots but we really didn’t threaten their goal.”
The Spiders’ best chance to score in the first half occurred in the 28th minute when junior Lexi Prillaman dribbled down the left side of the field, avoided defenders and attacked the goal. The UMass goalkeeper narrowly deflected her shot.
Although the offense struggled, Richmond’s strong defensive play kept them in the game, holding UMASS to only three shots in the first half.
Junior back Alexis Pringle and the team’s back four were key to the success on defense, Albright said.
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Freshman goalkeeper Carlie Blessing also had a strong showing with five saves, including an impressive leaping save in the 37th minute. She has not yet allowed a goal in conference play.
While the Spiders are happy with this win, Albright said that there were lessons to learn from this game and areas in which the team needs to improve in order to succeed in a competitive conference.
“We have to take better care of the ball,” Albright said. “We made a lot of poor decisions, played into pressure and it was not a strong attacking performance."
After their sixth win of the season, the Spiders look forward to their next two games, both at home and against conference foes St. Louis and Rhode Island.
“I feel we have a lot of energy going forward and can turn it around after losing the last two,” Clark said.
Contact reporter Andrew Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org
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