PATRIOTS POINT: For the second time in as many matches, the women from the College of Charleston let their first Colonial Athletic Association victory slip just beyond their grasp in the late going, 2-1.
This time the disappointment came at home to Towson State, with the equalizer surrendered in the 70th minute and the game-winner allowed in the 74th . Last time it came on Long Island, where the Cougars led conference powerhouse Hofstra into the 87th minute, only to lose 2-1 in overtime.
But the story of this game can also be told by one number: 13. That’s how many Cougars’ field players were available Sunday for Coach Tracy Chao — who was herself filling in for Coach Christian Michner, who missed the match with an illness. There were more reserve goalkeepers on the CofC bench at any given time Sunday than there were field players, and with seven of the starters playing the full 90, fatigue was a visible factor in the end game.
That’s not to say that the Cougars (2-10, 0-3 CAA) played lethargic football against Towson (7-6-1, 2-2 CAA). Despite an aggressive opening to the match, Towson soon found itself backpedaling against the College, which out-shot the Tigers 11-4 in the first half. One of those shots was a 39th minute goalazo by sophomore midfielder Michaela Herrmann, who cued up a pass from junior Sarah Cardamone roughly 27 yards from goal and buried it in the left upper 90.
Charleston maintained the momentum through halftime, and even though the game evened out as the half wore on, it took a breakdown by the Cougars to turn the tide. Pressing their advantage in the attacking third with about 20 minutes remaining, the Cougars lost possession near midfield and immediately found themselves stretched and vulnerable to a Towson counter. Forward Emily Barnes, a senior, found herself one-on-one with Cougars freshman goalkeeper Lauren Killian, and calmly chipped toward the far post when Killian’s move off her line left her in limbo.
Killian turned in a solid performance in her first collegiate start, with four saves and several assertive kills. But the battle of the keepers went to Towson’s Erin Quinn, who stopped six Cougars shots and stood up huge in the late going as the exhausted CofC women threw wild attacks her way. Towson challenged Killian from the opening whistle, and other than the four-minute span that produced both Tigers’ goals, she was air tight.
The game-winner was a chaotic finish to a Tigers corner kick that produced three headers in in the box, a short clearance, a point-blank shot off the crossbar, and a rebound volley by Hollie Garber that found the net. It came in the 74th minute and set up a frantic final 15. The Cougars generated multiple chances but couldn’t break Quinn and the Tigers’ defense.
“I thought we executed well and created so many chances,” Chao said after the match. “But we missed a few in front of the net. Give credit to Towson. They played well and kept the pressure on us. (But) you have to give credit to our girls, too. They always come out and give as much as they can.”
Of course, with the Cougars’ 2013 campaign turning into a brutal war of attrition, there are simply fewer women available to pitch in. The CofC bench looked more like a CARTA bus shelter than a team-dugout, with keepers, trainers and assistants easily outnumbering field players.
“Our numbers are low this year, so we’re battling depth,” Chao said. “It’s not because of a lack of players who can give 90 minutes, though. The players are fit and can go, but there were times when we got ourselves stretched a little bit too far, and that created space and problems. We needed to be a little bit more compressed.”
The team returns to CAA action on Oct. 11 at UNC-Wilmington.
TOP IMAGE: Freshman goalkeeper Lauren Killian reacts as the game winner curls the back of the net following a chaotic scene in front of goal. Dan Conover photos.
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