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Your Guide to GW sports

Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014 1:10 p.m.

Women’s soccer scores three goals in second half to defeat Loyola

Junior midfielder Nicole Belfonti fights for possession against an Old Dominion player on Aug. 24. Hatchet File Photo

Junior midfielder Nicole Belfonti fights for possession against an Old Dominion player Aug. 24. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Darius Kamshad.

Women’s soccer started a busy weekend with a 3-0 victory Friday over Loyola Maryland, once again demonstrating strong defense and timely execution on offense.

The win improves GW’s record to 3-0, marking the first time the Colonials have started the season 3-0 since 2007.

Loyola (1-2) challenged GW in the first half, pressuring the Colonials defense at multiple times. Loyola forward Charlotte Miller was particularly aggressive, firing all three of her attempted shots all in the first half. In total, Loyola took six shots against the GW defense in the first half. The Colonials, on the other hand, were limited to just two shot attempts.

“I think we started off a little slow in the first half, but then they did a pretty good job of being organized in the second,” head coach Sarah Barnes said. “I think the difference in the halves and ultimately the result is that we did a better job of passing the ball, and that movement really broke them down and gave us opportunities to penetrate.”

The Colonials came into the second half with a different attitude, Barnes said. Within four minutes, they had an impressive shot on goal from senior forward Meg Murphy and were dominating possession of the ball.

GW was able to find the back of the net in the 57th minute after Murphy connected on a cross from freshman midfielder Ingrid di Clemente, which was initially redirected by sophomore forward MacKenzie Cowley before ricocheting off Murphy into the Loyola goal. Murphy’s goal was the second of what looks to be a promising season for the senior.

“She’s been great and she has been looking good in training,” Barnes said. “Every game seems to be better than the one before. Her effort has been really excellent.”

Just 10 minutes later, in the 66th minute, midfielder Nicole Belfonti clinched her first score of the season on an unassisted goal to put the Colonials up 2-0.

Junior midfielder Kristi Abbate made the final goal for GW in the 78th minute of the game, scoring on the Loyola goalkeeper after an assist from freshman Brittany Cooper. Abbate now has two goals on the year.

Three goals was more than enough for goalkeeper Miranda Horn, who earned her third win in front of the net after posting another scoreless performance for the Colonials. The redshirt freshman tallied three saves in the shutout effort.

Barnes has been able to rotate players in, keeping the team fresh, thanks to GW’s demonstrated depth early in the season. It’s a strategy that Barnes says the Colonials will need Sunday when they play William & Mary, a team that defeated Atlantic 10 conference member George Mason in its season opener.

“It’s going to be pretty challenging for us, so we’re really excited for that,” Barnes said. “We’ve got a lot of players that we can play and we can keep the level up.”