Gardner-Webb (3-11-1, 2-5-1 Big South) scored in the ninth minute on a goal by Samantha Gutierrez, her second of the year, and added a penalty kick from Tara Woelfel in the 42nd minute to account for all the scoring. There were nine total shots on goal in the second half, in comparison to just four in the opening frame, and the total shot count went up as well, increasing from a combined 15 to 21 thanks to VMI’s (1-13, 0-8 Big South) nine second-half shot attempts. Both defensive units, however, kept the offenses off the scoreboard in the final 45 minutes.
The first shot on goal of the match came just 1:51 in, as GWU’s Karyn Latorre was stopped by Mackenzie Harrmann. Six minutes later, with VMI not having registered a shot as of yet, Gardner-Webb went to its bench for a new goalkeeper, Amy Schmitt.
Moments after Schmitt’s insertion, GWU struck in the ninth minute. Gutierrez received a pass from Addison Abee and drilled a shot to the upper right corner, besting Harrmann for the game’s first goal and a 1-0 lead.
Harrmann turned the tables on Gutierrez just one minute later, making her second save of the match, and from there, the game went through a period of midfield play with few shots. Erika Boggs put VMI into the ledger with a try that went wide in the 33rd minute, and Nicole Blixt gave the Keydets one of their best shots of the day in the 37th minute, but bounced the try off the crossbar.
Gardner-Webb, meanwhile, added to its lead in the 42nd minute. A foul was whistled on the Keydets in the box, and Woelfel converted the ensuing penalty kick to push the margin to 2-0, which would be the score at halftime. GWU held a 12-3 edge in shots at the break, while both teams had attempted just one corner kick.
The Keydets came out strong in the second half, with Liz Affronti earning a 46th minute corner. In the 51st minute, Killian Buckley had a shot blocked and, off the ensuing scramble, Courtney Mason put a try on goal. Schmitt scooped the ball up for a save, however, preserving the two-goal margin.
Harrmann came back with a save of her own in the 65th minute, and Meredith Baldasare was stopped by Schmitt at 75:56, as Gardner-Webb hung on to its 2-0 cushion.
The home team pressed for more, but in a span of 3:20, Harrmann stopped Woelfel three times and a Kadesha Otzko shot hit the crossbar, keeping VMI within range. An 87th minute try by Erika Boggs was turned away, however, and that would be the last Keydet shot on goal as the Runnin’ Bulldogs hung on for the win.
For the match, Gardner-Webb held a 24-12 edge in shots, with VMI posting nine of its shots in the second half. The Keydets had eight saves, all by Harrmann, to three for GWU, all by Schmitt, and the home team had a 5-2 edge in corner kicks.
VMI women’s soccer will return to action Thursday, playing host to Liberty at Patchin Field for the program’s senior day. Game time is set for 4 p.m., and the four Keydet seniors will be honored shortly before the match.