ATLANTA – In a physical match-up that included two penalty kick scores, the Georgia State women's soccer team fell just short of a victory, dropping its second game of the season, 3-2, to Villanova (2-0-1) Friday evening at Panthersville.
Despite two goals from junior forward Sarah Bennett, the Panthers were unable to take the lead from the Wildcats and dropped to 0-2 on the season. Sophomore defender Alyssia Feronti contributed with an assist on Bennett’s first score, while the junior’s second goal came off a penalty kick late in the second half.
Villanova got off to quick start following the opening kick-off, firing three shots and creating two corner kicks before six minutes had ticked from the clock. Not long after, Georgia State got its chance when junior midfielder Carly Lafferty got a head on a corner kick in from Feronti, but the ball just missed the goal wide right.
“I think we were shell-shocked a little in the first 10 minutes,” said head coach Domenic Martelli. “It wasn’t like we were not stopping Villanova but we weren’t doing the appropriate things to prevent their type of attack.”
The Wildcats tallied their first score in the 14th minute. Senior Katie Ryan received a pass just outside the 18-yard box leaving her one-on-one with senior goalkeeper Kellianne Collins. Collins slid out to make the save but Ryan cut around her and shot into the right corner of the net giving the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
Georgia State created great scoring chances after the Wildcat’s score but were unable to capitalize on the opportunities. Junior defender Lani Huntley, sophomore forward Jewel Evans and Lafferty each launched a shot in the 15 minutes following Villanova’s goal but none were able to find the back of the net.
“That goal woke us up,” commented Martelli. “After Villanova got that first score, we played much better for the rest of the half. We were able to create some great scoring chances to take us into halftime with a positive outlook.”
With four minutes remaining in the first half, Collins came away with a sliding save to deny Villnova’s Colleen Lineweaver a scoring opportunity. Unfortunately, Collins sustained an injury during the save and redshirt-sophomore Rebecca Ingram stepped in as the Panther’s goalkeeper.
Neither team was able to notch a goal as the final minutes ticked from the scoreboard, and the first half came to an end with Villanova up 1-0.
The Wildcat’s second goal came less than three minutes into the second half. Villanova’s Channing Press got a strong foot on a ball as it was being kicked around in front of the Panther goal. Ingram was unable to get a hand on it and the Wildcats increased their lead to two.
Georgia State lessened the gap in the 67th minute with Bennett’s first goal of the match. The Panthers were given a free kick close to midfield that Feronti powered into the 18-yard box. Bennett ensuingly headed the ball over the Villanova goalkeeper’s reach to bring the score to 2-1.
Just over three minutes after Georgia State’s score, Villanova’s Heidi Sabatura netted a penalty kick to return the Wildcats to a two-goal lead.
Determined to land another goal and decrease Villanova’s lead, GSU fired three shots over the next six minutes but none resulted in a point for the Panthers.
Georgia State brought the score difference back to one with another goal from Bennett. Less than eight minutes after Villanova’s penalty shot, Bennett landed a penalty kick for the Panthers to bring the score to 3-2 with just over 10 minutes left to play in regulation.
“The last 10 minutes was a great 3-2 battle,” said Martelli. “Those are the type of in-game instances that we can take things away from and really learn moving forward.”
Despite two close shots from sophomore Alison Gonzalez and Bennett, the Panthers were unable to find the equalizer and Villanova walked away with the 3-2 victory.
“We have two days to get ready for a very difficult Mercer team,” said Martelli. “I believe that we still have enough players to step up. We’ve got the players who are going to continue to play better. All of that moves us that much closer to ending with a victory.”
Georgia State women's soccer will look to gain its first win of the season Sunday afternoon as the team travels to Macon, Ga. to take on in-state rival Mercer at 2 p.m.