A late goal by University of Dayton women’s soccer senior forward Colleen Williams against Virginia Commonwealth University helped secure a second-place finish in the Atlantic 10.
Trailing 1-0 to VCU in the 88th minute on Sunday, Oct. 28, at Baujan Field, Williams received a long, crossing pass coming from right of the net from sophomore forward Kelsey Smigel just feet in front of the net. The ball sailed across the net and over the outstretched arms of VCU senior goalkeeper Kristin Carden to Williams, who headed it into the far post and tied the match.
Dayton (14-4, 7-1-1 A-10) applied the same, constant pressure as it had in the second half during both overtime periods and outshot VCU 26-3 over that same period, but was unable to find the net again, ending the match in a 1-1 draw.
Williams said a fiery halftime speech from head coach Mike Tucker got the team’s attention after a poor first half performance.
“Coach Tucker’s halftime speech was not comical, but maybe one day looking back, it will be,” Williams said. “I don’t think I should repeat it.”
Tucker said he was happy with getting second-place, but thought the team should have played better.
“The first half was just absolute garbage,” he said. “You walk inside there and I think you’re going to see a lot of paint blistered off the walls. They heard some things that they haven’t heard from me, ever maybe. Apparently it worked. They’re a really good team, and to get the tie after playing as poorly as we did in the first half, that was nice.”
Williams finished the regular season with 57 career goals to go with 48 assists, two assists shy of becoming the 21st player in NCAA history to achieve the 50-50 mark.
“I would have rather gotten a win today,” she said. “So getting a win on senior night was awesome … but the goals are secondary.”
Dayton clinched the conference’s second seed in the A-10 Championship tournament to be held starting on Thursday, Nov. 1, at the URI Soccer Complex at the University of Rhode Island. Dayton will take on the No. 7 seed University of Massachusetts in the first round at 5 p.m.
Tucker said the first game against UMass was a contest that included poor conditions but a dominate performance by his team. He said he hopes that will put a little fear into UMass, but knows they are a good team.
“I think we’ll see a little different team in the tournament,” Tucker said. “Honestly, right now, if we play up to par and come to play 90 minutes, then we’re going to have success in any of these games.”
Williams said at this point in the season, it comes down to having enough heart to move on.
On Friday, Oct. 26, Dayton held its senior night against the University of Richmond, taking a 2-1 decision.
Wet and muddy conditions forced both teams to change its strategies, as passed balls would repeatedly get stuck in puddles that were slowly building up as the match progressed, and the slippery field did not allow for many sharp cuts without players falling.
In the 17th minute, Williams received a pass ranging from midfield and corralled the ball in the box in the harsh conditions, dribbling around a defender and scoring into the near corner to give UD a 1-0 lead.
Junior midfielder Stephanie Emery scored in the 35th minute that extended UD’s lead to 2-0. In the left half of the box, she stopped freshman midfielder Ashley Campbell’s crossing pass and booted it back across inside of the far post.
In the final minutes of the first half, the conditions reared its ugly head in ending Dayton’s four-match shutout streak.
Junior goalkeeper Jordin Melchert attempted to scoop up a ball in front of the net, but it slipped through her hands and fell right to the foot of UR junior forward Erin Layne who had an open net for an easy score, providing the match’s final margin.
Tucker said all four seniors, who include goalkeeper Katherine Boone, defender Alysha Mallon, midfielder Alexis Garcia and Williams, have played a part in the amount of success the team has had.
“What an incredible job those four has done for us for four years,” he said. “We’re going to ride that senior high as long as we can and let them lead the way.”