JMU women’s soccer’s season ended Saturday, losing 2-0 to the Hofstra Pride in the CAA Championship game. The No. 3 seeded Pride took down the No. 1 seed and regular season champion Dukes on their home turf at Sentara Park.
While the stat sheet might imply a dominant victory for the Pride, the reality was far different. The Dukes started strong, and even after Hofstra scored in the fourteenth minute, JMU players were constantly attacking and knocking on the door up to the final seconds of the match. JMU recorded nine attempted shots on goal with three in the first half and six in the second.
“We never stop working,” sophomore midfielder Sophie Brause said. “That’s one of our mnemonics: ‘Blue collar.’ We believe we’re blue collar, we don’t stop working. We’ll give the best [we have]. We might not have executed a lot of things but we sure as hell gave them a fight.”
Brause is right. The four saves junior goalkeeper Hannah McShea recorded demonstrate their scrappiness, but the numbers themselves don’t fully encapsulate how clutch the entire defense was at times.
However, the team still fell short of their goal: being the first in JMU program history to win both the regular season and the CAA title. At times it seemed as if the Dukes were fighting a war on two fronts against Hofstra and the officials. Some questionable calls in the first half visibly disconcerted the Dukes.
“I feel like in the first half [the officiating] definitely got in our heads,” junior forward Haley Crawford said. “He was making bad calls. but then us arguing back didn’t help because he was handing out cards. Slowly, throughout the game, we just learned to avoid him. We had to play against the ref and the win in the first half. It just didn’t go our way.”
JMU received 100 percent of all yellow cards lead official Sergio Gonzalez issued. Senior defender/midfielder Stephanie Hendrie, junior forward Phoebe Dinga, McShea, junior defender Lizzy Lazzaro and head coach Joshua Walters were the recipients of all five yellow cards of the match.
This is not to say that the officiating ultimately swayed the match. The team is responsible for taking the match out of the officials’ hands, making things happen and creating its own opportunities. To that end, the Dukes’ defeat results from a failure to execute their own strategy. While the loss may linger over the team, Walters is proud of his team, especially his seniors for whom he has a special message.
“Thank you for being such incredible people and for embracing our staff when we came in,” Walters said. “It’s great to come in and have several seniors that have drive and want to accomplish something. It’s going to be really difficult for us to find that same drive out of other players.”
The soccer team may be beaten, but the Dukes can pride themselves in knowing they gave their all in their final performance of the season. Moreover, the team went from being bumped out of the CAA tournament in the first round and sporting a negative record to serious contenders for the championship and the No. 1 seed. The team is headed in a positive direction.
Contact Michael Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more women’s soccer coverage, follow the Breeze sports desk @theBreezeSports.