Tech women get it together
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- WVU Tech has been battered and beaten by a tough schedule, but now the Golden Bears are starting to reap the benefits.
Junior Creshana Jones and freshman Alex Blumer each scored a goal and freshman keeper Bridgett Goss made one save in a shutout performance as 10th-seeded Tech downed No. 7 Paul Smith's College 2-0 Wednesday afternoon in the women's play-in round of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association soccer tournament. A crowd of about 50 attended the matchup at Schoenbaum Soccer Stadium in Coonskin Park.
Tech (5-14) takes on No. 2 Daemen College at 5:15 p.m. today at Schoenbaum.
Jones put the Golden Bears up 1-0 about six minutes before halftime on an assist from freshman Catie Crumb. Blumer's unassisted tally gave Tech some breathing room with a 2-0 advantage in the 68th minute. Blumer, who is from Venezuela, cranked a shot from about 20 yards out that tucked into the upper-left corner of the net.
Paul Smith's never mounted much of a challenge the rest of the way.
"It's a big deal for us,'' Tech third-year coach Kelly Borck said of Wednesday's victory. "We've had a very difficult schedule. I don't think at any point in the season has our record been indicative of our play. Just [Tuesday] we got all of our members of our team cleared to play.
"And we have not had one game like that this season. We've had a different lineup almost every game. We've switched formations and we've switched people to totally different positions they don't normally play. That's been that way since Day 1. We've had a lot of trials throughout most of the year. We're coming together.''
Of the 19 players on Tech's roster, 10 are freshmen and have been pressed into duty this year. The Golden Bears dropped their first four games and, after their first win, had a losing streak of five games. Jones, of Jamaica, N.Y., missed the first seven games with an injury and Goss had been a forward until taking over keeper duties recently.
"We're a growing team,'' said Tech freshman Shelby Swiney, a former standout at Sissonville High. "We're getting better. Everybody's hurt. At one point we were playing 10 on the field with no subs. It's hard. It's so much different than high school. The players are faster. It was an adjustment.''
The Golden Bears have three players from South America and one from Canada. Others from the Mountain State include Krystin Barton, a sophomore from Riverside High; freshman Jordan Thompson of Princeton; Ashley Collins, a junior from Morgantown; and senior Jess Raines of Sissonville.
"To have the full team back, it's great," smiled Tech junior and team co-captain Sierrah Soto of Georgetown, Texas.
"We're a young team so we've had to mesh together and figure things out. We've come a real long way and it feels good. Sometimes we get down, but we pick each other up. Just keep pushing.''
Borck said her team must stay focused after Wednesday's win and not get too carried away if it wants to continue its run. Borck is a former player at the University of Charleston, former girls head coach at Capital High School and former women's head coach at Mountain State University.
"It's just going to come down to composure,'' she said of getting past Daemen College. "We've got a pretty young team so hopefully everybody stays relaxed and loose.''
In other USCCA tournament games Wednesday, No. 9 Maine-Machias edged No. 8 Penn College 2-1 in the ninth round of penalty kicks in the other women's match. On the men's side, No. 7 Washington Adventist blanked No. 10 New Hampshire Technical Institute 2-0 and No. 8 Maine-Machias blasted No. 9 Penn State Brandywine 6-1.
Tech, which is the top-seeded team in the men's division, opens play against No. 8 Maine-Machias at 7:30 p.m. today at Schoenbaum.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.