Women’s Soccer falters at home in season opener

Senior forward Nicole Peters attacks the St. John's defense during Mason's regular season opener Monday night, a game rescheduled from Sunday afternoon's wash out. The Patriots were down early and fell 2-1 (John Powell).

For the second day in a row, the George Mason Women’s Soccer team faced the St. John’s Red Storm. Just like Sunday’s contest, which was suspended due to rain and postponed until Monday, the Red Storm took the lead in less than 15 minutes. This time, however, the weather held up through to the final whistle, as the Patriots dropped their season opener 2-1.

It was their first loss to open the season since 2009, when they took a 0-5 loss against Maryland en route to a 5-13-1 final record, the last losing record for the team.

Just 12:15 into the first half, St. John’s senior forward Jen Leaverton took a pass in traffic from junior defender Patrice Casmir for the first goal of the game, just past sophomore goalkeeper Lyndse Hokanson.

“She’s a great goalkeeper,” head coach Diane Drake said, “but she’s second-guessing herself right now. And she’s just making some silly mistakes that she’ll rectify. She’s a smart kid, smart player.”

The Red Storm held on to possession for the rest of the half, forcing the Patriots to take all three of their shots on goal from outside 25 yards. The Patriots struggled moving the ball and was unable to pressure the St. John’s defense.

The fans in the stands rose to their feet, however, after the second half started when junior forward Tiana Kallenberger sent the ball from the right to Zoe Doherty inside of 18 yards. Doherty missed the shot just high, giving up the first real scoring opportunity the Patriots had all night.

St. John’s used their possession advantage in the second half as freshman midfielder Deanna Murino scored unassisted to the left of Hokanson to increase the Red Storm lead to two goals.

“She got frozen a little bit,” Drake said. “The two that they hit, we could’ve saved. The goalkeeper could’ve saved them.”

With 14:17 left in the game, Mason’s senior defender Kelly Thomas took a free kick just inside of midfield. After knocking off St. John’s goalkeeper Kristin Russell’s hand and rebounding off the crossbar, freshman midfielder Kelly Pizzingrilli finished the play for the goal.

“I made a spin off from a defender and I was just there to finish,” Pizzingrilli said. “I’m going to try to be there at the same spot, but things happen differently. It’s a game.”

The key to scoring against the St. Johns defense was quick passing to break through the defensive line. But St. John’s stepped up their pressure at midfield, and Mason’s front line could not break through. The Red Storm ran out the clock for the win.

After both teams came off 0-5 losses in exhibition contests, St. John’s to William & Mary and Mason to Virginia, the Patriots showed fight the whole game in an attempt to right their ship to open the regular season. They had more shots on goal than their game against UVA, but only managed to put one in the net.

“I think we got what we wanted to out of the game, less the result,” Drake said. “By way of being able to move the ball and defend and play with more tenacity. We found who we are and how we need to play.”

None of Sunday afternoon’s statistics count for regular season totals; only Monday night’s action is official. They play next at the Penn State Invitational, as they face Richmond Aug. 26 and West Virginia Aug. 28.

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