EMU's women continue to learn and improve.
Starting mostly freshmen and sophomores, the Royals stymied Roanoke College (4-3-1/1-0 ODAC) on their home turf and nearly stole a point in the league standings before a goal late in double overtime dropped Eastern Mennonite in a 1-0 loss. The women fall to 2-4-2 overall with the defeat in their first ODAC game of the season.
Despite the check in the loss column, the game was a solid win in terms of competitiveness. In comparison to last year, the Royals lost to Roanoke 3-0 in Harrisonburg. And looking back just three days to a game at Bridgewater, EMU was in a similar situation after having played a talented team to a first-half draw, only to give up two goals shortly after halftime in a 3-0 loss.
Saturday in Salem, Eastern Mennonite's defense repeatedly pushed aside attacks by the Maroons offense, especially clogging up the middle of RC's attack. Offensively, the Royals were limited by their hosts. Freshman Rachel Sauder (Lyndhurst, Va./Stuarts Draft) fired a shot on goal in the 24th minute, and then managed the team's only other attempt in the 60th minute.
Roanoke ended with a 30-2 advantage in shots, although EMU's defense forced many of the attempts to go off-target. The women even dodged a bullet when a heads-up offside call negated a score in the 87th minute.
Hannah Walker (Chesapeake, Va./Grassfield) and Megan Breidigan (Douglassville, Pa./Daniel Boone) anchored the middle of the women's back line, while midfielders Sauder, Liz Huffman (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Mechanicsburg Area), Emily Hostetler (Marshallville, Ohio/Smithville), Sara Shenk Moreno (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg) and Marcy Smucker (Woodward, Pa./Penns Valley) stopped Roanoke's attempts to push the ball through the middle of the midfield.
Keeper Leah Wenger (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite) made a number of nice saves, including two in the second overtime, before the Maroons finally scored. In the end, Roanoke earned the winner on what looked like a broken attempt, as Emily Whitaker found a centering pass in front of the goal after the ball trickled through a tangle of players. Whitaker hit the net with only 2:49 left in the second extra session.
It was the fifth of EMU's eight games this season to go into OT, and the fourth to go into double overtime.
Wenger racked up a season high 10 saves in front of the net. Sauder took the Royals' only two shots.
After six straight road games, Eastern Mennonite returns home for their next three. They will need all the home field advantage possible as they take on co-preseason favorites Lynchburg and Washington and Lee over the next two Wednesdays, respectively. The Royals also host Sweet Briar next Saturday afternoon.