BRYN MAWR, Pa. - For over 84 minutes of Friday afternoon's Bryn Mawr soccer match against Cabrini, it appeared as if the Owls were going to walk away victorious. Bryn Mawr had controlled play much of the way through their season-opener, completely dominating the first half, with freshman Elizabeth Hummel tallying her first career goal for the Owls just 14 minutes into play. In the second half, Bryn Mawr put up a solid fortress of defense, parrying away each Cabrini opportunity and carrying a 1-0 lead into the waning minutes of the contest. Unfortunately, the final five minutes of action spoiled Bryn Mawr's chances of starting their season 1-0. Cabrini's second-half pressure finally paid off, as the Cavaliers scored two goals in the final 5:45 of play to turn a huge Bryn Mawr win into a stunning 2-1 defeat that left a bad taste in the mouth of every Owls fan who braved the soaking rains to cheer on their program.
Cabrini comes into this year having made the NCAA tournament in six of the past seven years, but Bryn Mawr did not let that faze them in the slightest. The Owls were on the front foot from the opening whistle, and it was Hummel who recorded Bryn Mawr's first shot of the year on a very high-quality chance. With the ball coming down the right side, Hummel was able to redirect a pass from the wing on goal, but Cabrini goalkeeper Ashley Tutzauer made a brilliant stop to keep the Owls off the board. The two teams settled in over the next ten minutes, seemingly trying to adapt to game speed after a long couple weeks of preseason prep work. The visitors got the next decent chance on a shot from well outside the penalty box, but it was an easy first touch of the game for Owls goalkeeper Kinsey Schwab. Schwab would make a somewhat more difficult save in the fifteenth minute, and that stop ended up sparking the attack that saw Bryn Mawr tally the first goal of the contest.
After Schwab's save, the Owls worked the ball down the field through the Cabrini defense. The ball ended up coming loose in the final third, and Hummel was the first to pounce on it. The speedy first-year streaked down the right side of the field and into the penalty area, where she let loose with a hard, low shot. Cavaliers goalkeeper Ashley Tutzauer made a diving attempt, but Hummel's shot was too strong, flying past the keeper's outstretched hands and into the back of the net to put the hosts ahead 1-0. The goal was the fastest season-opening goal for the Owls since the 2011 opener against Rosemont.
Cabrini would tally the next five shots of the contest, pressing their attack to try and find an equalizer. However, most of those efforts were from well outside of the penalty area and either went high or wide or were collected by Schwab, who did a great job staying active in the back. Bryn Mawr was nearly able to double their lead in the 32nd minute of play, as Emily Elmore had a great chance right near the penalty spot. However, Tutzauer once again made a great save to push the ball wide of the post and deny the talented junior. The ensuing Owls corner kick didn't result in a chance, and that proved to be the final major action of the first half.
The second half certainly proved to be a different story from the first, as Cabrini made some obvious changes in their shape and style in an effort to get back in the game. Those efforts resulted in a much greater percentage of possession and an 8-2 advantage in shots for the visitors, but Bryn Mawr did a fantastic job of weathering that challenge for almost the entire half. Early on, Bryn Mawr's defense played the offside trap to perfection, stepping up to catch Cabrini attackers offsides on four separate occasions and frustrating the Cavaliers sideline.
Despite the disparity in possession, it was the Owls who had the first shot on goal of the half, and it was another very high quality scoring chance for the hosts. After a turnover from the Cavaliers in midfield, the Owls made several great first-touch passes, with the final ball leading first-year Kass Wojcik in alone on goal down the right side. Wojcick sprinted into the penalty area and let loose a hard, driven shot towards the cage, but unfortunately, it was straight at Tutzauer, who was able to throw her hands up almost in self-defense to parry the shot away.
That play seemed to inspire the Cavaliers to up their play for the final 20 minutes, as the visitors created a flurry of chances over that final stretch in an effort to tie the game back up. Schwab continued to stand strong in goal, making a great diving save on a shot with 14 minutes left to play to keep the Owls ahead. Cabrini earned four corner kicks in the span of three minutes, but the Owls defense buckled down and cleared each of those efforts. Unfortunately, the pressure finally broke through, as Cabrini found their equalizer in the 85th minute. Diana Van Sickle jumped on a loose ball in the middle of the final third in a bit of space, and she was able to let loose a shot from the top of the box that just sailed past Schwab's mitts and inside the left corner of the net, making it a 1-1 game.
Bryn Mawr tried to regroup from that disheartening goal, but Cabrini simply turned the pressure up another notch. It looked like the Owls might hold on and make it into overtime, but it simply wasn't to be on this afternoon. An Owls goal kick ended up right on the feet of Cabrini's Katelyn Gilinger, and she immediately passed a lofted ball from the left wing into the box. Kait Cloud found just enough room on the back shoulder of her Bryn Mawr defender to get a foot on the pass, volleying a shot past Schwab and into the middle of the net to spark a raucous celebration from the Cavaliers. With just seconds left in the contest, that final play proved to be decisive, as Cabrini squeaked away with the 2-1 win.
Despite the final result, there were plenty of positives for the Owls to take away from today's contest, including the strong play of their defense and solid contributions from many of their first-year players. Bryn Mawr will get a chance to get today's tough loss behind them immediately, as the Owls are right back in action on Sunday with a home contest against Moravian at 2:00 PM.