Tigers stumble in opening weekend

By John Hack, Staff Writer

photo by Brendan Felch/ The Towerlight

The Tigers kicked off the 2019 season on a brand new field at the Tiger Soccer Complex. Unfortunately, the new field yielded less than stellar results as Towson fell to Old Dominion on Thursday and Marist on Sunday

Reflecting on her team’s disappointing 3-0 loss against the Red Foxes (1-0-0), head coach Katherine Vettori didn’t mince words when asked what kind of message she wanted to get through to the squad.

“I think we need to be able to figure out how to win a game,” Vettori said. “But we have to figure out our personality and who we are and when times are tough, who’s gonna step up and have a voice.”

In the game’s opening 10 minutes, Towson’s (0-2-0) defensive line was tested with sudden pressure by Marist, stemming from turnovers in their defensive end via failed clearances or passing miscues.

“We work every single day on passing and passing patterns and, for some reason, when we get out on the field, that’s lost in translation,” said Vettori.

Junior goalkeeper Hannah Warner made a few key saves early on to keep the game scoreless. That would not be the case for long, however, as Marist would strike in the 17th minute.

“In the first half, [Marist] dropped their line back and we had a lot of time from our backs to make decisions, and we chose the wrong decision,” Vettori said.

Towson showed signs of life with a shot from freshman Phoebe Canoles that went over the crossbar.

The closest that the Tigers had come to knotting up the score in the first half came when freshman forward Demi Pierre blasted a shot labeled for the top left corner, but was stopped by a well-positioned Marist goalie.

In the opening five minutes of the second half, the Tigers received a pair of scoring chances. First, Canoles came running to the left post before receiving her pass but was unable to move past her final defender and get a good angle to shoot. 

Less than a minute later, senior midfielder Nikki Logan got a great feed at the same spot and moved past her defender before getting a point-blank shot right in front of goal. The ball bounced off the diving keeper before ricocheting off the crossbar and being cleared by a Red Fox defender.

Logan would also create herself another scoring chance not long after, making a great move, outmuscling her defender to win the ball on a 1-on-1 before she buzzed a shot wide left of the post.

Freshman goalkeeper Linsdey Pazdziorko made her first career appearance in goal when she was substituted in for Warner at the start of the second half. Pazdziorko made four saves in her debut. 

Marist doubled their lead when a centering pass came in from the left side of the box and a one touch shot swerved it way around and past Pazdiorko in the 66th minute.

‘The first two [Marist] goals, we got forward, we’re creating something, we’re about one more pass and we’re in, and immediately we gave it up and we were counter-attacked,” Vettori said. 

In the 83rd minute, Marist added to their lead when a shot, possibly an intended cross from the left corner, floated towards the goal and off the extended hands of a jumping Pazdiorko before bouncing into the net to make it 3-0. 

 “We just have to keep working on the things that we’re trying to work on every single day and hope that some light bulbs go off,” Vettori said. “We started to play as individuals and we need to figure out how, when the going gets tough, how were going to come together.

For roughly 70 minutes of their season-opening matchup against the Monarchs (2-0-0), Towson had continued to mount chances, but failed to capitalize.

In the 14th minute, Canoles performed a stop-and-go which froze her defender, giving her more space to run to the end line before centering a low cross to sophomore forward Jenna Blank who was making a run towards the six-yard box. 

Blank was able to redirect the pass with the outside of her right foot, chipping it over the goalie’s left arm and into the goal. It was Towson’s first shot on goal and it gave them a 1-0 lead early on. 

The Tigers had additional opportunities to add to their lead, but a corner kick proved to no avail before the Monarchs knotted up the score in the 37th minute. However, conceding a goal with less than 10 minutes from halftime didn’t deter any offensive spark for Towson as Blank came close to scoring a second time, but had shot above the crossbar.

In the later stages of the second half, the Tigers showed signs of life with fresh legs, near misses and saves on shots from Canoles and senior midfielder Moriah Wigley. 

“For 10 seconds, we take a mental timeout and it changes everything,” said Vettori. “We were excited. We had a great crowd tonight. Just to get out and play this home opener against an extremely quality opponent who beat us four to nothing last year.”

Towson surrendered a goal in the 70th minute, giving Old Dominion their first lead of the game.

A third goal from the Monarchs in the 76th minute made the deficit more difficult to overcome before a fourth tally 10 minutes later all but sealed the Tigers’ fate. 

“I think there are a lot of positives to take away from this game and a lot to learn from since we are a pretty young team,” Vettori said.

The Tigers will host Mount St. Mary’s in the first leg of the Battle of Baltimore. 

The game will take place at the Tiger Soccer Complex on Thursday, Aug. 29 at 5 p.m.

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