First-year Maryland women's soccer Coach Shannon Higgins-Cirovski watched her new team deflect a spirited effort from her former team, George Washington, and emerge with a 2-0 victory yesterday at South Riding Field.
Higgins-Cirovski coached the Colonials from 1991 to 1997 before leaving to coach the U.S. under-18 national team last year. She took over Maryland's program in January.
"It was good to get the GW rivalry thing out of the way a little bit," Higgins-Cirovski said. "I obviously have a place in my heart for them and it's hard to play against your former school."
Senior Emily Janss and freshman Kim King scored for Maryland, which started five newcomers after losing six players to graduation.
George Washington did not hide its enthusiasm before the game, huddling together, howling and yelling. In the first 10 minutes the Colonials challenged vigorously all over the field, committing four fouls.
"When Shannon took the national team job we were upset because we lost a great coach, but we were happy for her, too," George Washington senior Malynda Nichol said. "When she took the job at Maryland, the emotions turned a little bit and everything focused on this game. We had a lot of pride and wanted to show her that she left a great program."
Maryland held a clear territorial advantage throughout the game. Janss cracked the Colonials' defense in the 29th minute to volley a headed pass from freshman forward Valerie Lawrence (Good Counsel) past goalkeeper Shannon Ashfield.
After weathering a shower of long throw-ins from Maryland freshman Lindsay Graves early in the second half, George Washington got its best chance when Maryland goalie Ali Wolff misplayed a clearing attempt with her feet and dragged down Colonials freshman Caroline Donaghue just outside the penalty area. The referee issued Wolff a yellow card but George Washington senior Katy McQuillin clanged the ensuing free kick off the crossbar.
"We were fortunate that it didn't end up being a red card," Higgins-Cirovski said.
King gave Maryland its insurance with about 15 minutes remaining when she took a short pass from senior Jackie Mynarski and put a 16-yard shot inside the right post.
Maryland (1-0) 1 1 2
G. Washington (0-1) 0 0 0
SCORING -- Janss 29th (Lawrence, Harrison), King 75th (Mynarski, Beirne).
SHOTS -- Maryland 13, GW 2.
SAVES -- M: Wolff 1; GW: Ashfield 2.