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Iron Blade

Women’s Soccer Battles Hard in ODAC Loss

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  • Goal keeper Ashli Wuss, sophomore, and defender Haley Woodward, junior, both go up for the ball against Virginia Wesleyan University.

  • Ashli Wuss, sophomore, gets her fingertips on the ball to knock it wide of the goal after a Virginia Wesleyan University shot attempt.

  • Haley Woodward, junior, kicks the ball off a Virginia Wesleyan attacker to secure a goal kick.

  • Ashli Wuss, sophomore, punches the ball away from the Virginia Wesleyan University attack.

  • Haley Woodward, junior, shields off a Virginia Wesleyan player to win and keep possession of the ball.

  • Ashli Wuss, sophomore, stretches to grab a ball out of the air and prevent a Virginia Wesleyan University goal.

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Ashli Wuss spent a lot of time in the air Friday night.

The sophomore goalkeeper also spent a lot of time on the ground.

In total, Wuss jumped, shuffled, dived, punched, and parried her way to 14 saves in a contest that ultimately ended in a 3-0 Panther loss to Virginia Wesleyan University.

The saves weren’t the half of it.


She also had to contend with 16 corner kicks from the Marlins, who spoiled the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) opener for the Panthers.

“She was fantastic,” Head Coach Erin Saleeby said postgame. “She made some really, really great saves, and our defense played really well.”

Indeed. It took three quarters of the game before the Marlins put any points on the board. Prior to that, the ladies spent most of the game in their own end, thwarting the VWU offense.

“That team went to the (NCAA) Final Four last year and were picked to finish first in the conference,” Saleeby said. “So I am proud of how we fought.”

In the first half VWU really didn’t get that many shots.

“They had opportunities, but they didn’t pepper us with shots,” Saleeby said. “When we got tired was when that kind of happened.”

She also said the team changed the way they played in an attempt to counter the VWU offense.

“Our game plan worked for most of the game,” She said. “And our game plan was to frustrate them–defensively to absolutely frustrate what they had. They have a girl who is a fantastic goal-every-game type of player–she scored their first goal. But our game plan worked until we just ran out of gas.”

The team played in a 3-5-2 formation to gain an extra player in the midfield–the first time they have played that shape this season.

“That let us clog up the midfield, which made them shoot from distance,” Saleeby said. “We were confident in Ashli (Wuss) for that.”

She also said by taking up more space in the middle, they could force the Marlins to the outside widths of the field.

“Our defenders do a good job of wining the ball in air,” Saleeby said. “So we felt kind of confident about that. They are real turn-and-shoot-from-inside-the-box kind of team–so we felt good about forcing them outside.”

And it did work for about 75% of the game.

The Marlins were pointless until almost 20 minutes into the second half, when Shyenne Diaz knocked one in for VWU. It is often said that goals come in twos, and fewer than five minutes later, the Marlins scored off a corner kick header by Krista Anderson to make it 2-0. They added an insurance goal with just a little more than eight minutes left in the contest to make the final score 3-0 Marlins.

“They played their heats out tonight,” Assistant Coach Wes Lewis said of the team. “At one point, we had in two freshmen and a sophomore in our midfield playing against a Final-Four team. You can’t teach the kind of heart and effort they put in tonight.”

For her part, Saleeby singled out defender Haley Woodward, junior.

“Haley played great today,” she said. “She won everything out of the air. She was organizing. She was great.”

The team’s overall performance Friday gave Saleeby a good amount of confidence for conference play moving forward.

“I think we are going to surprise some people–I don’t know that people are going to be prepared for what we’ve got,” she said.

The loss brings thePanthers to 5-2-1, 0-1 in the ODAC. The ladies’ next contest will be Wednesday at Roanoke College with a game time set for 7 p.m.






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