Cougar athletics struggle in weekend action
It was a sour weekend for the Cougars as three programs combined to go 0-4, highlighted by the football team losing its first game of the season Saturday.
Here is how the various teams fared:
The now No. 13 Cougars (5-1, 2-1) couldn’t stop the Naval Academy Midshipmen’s rushing attack en route to a 46-40 loss Saturday afternoon in Annapolis, Maryland.
Football surrendered 306 rushing yards to the uncanny triple-option offense of the 17-point underdog Midshipmen.
The Cougars’ defense came in to the game with the nation’s top rush defense, allowing just 42 yards per game. The team proceeded to give up more yards on the ground to the Midshipmen than they had in their first five games combined.
Senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. continued his impressive season, going 32-for-50 with 359 yards passing with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Ward also found success on the ground by rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown on just 17 attempts.
Junior wide receivers Linell Bonner and Steven Dunbar led the way for the Cougars’ offense with nine receptions each for 117 and 112 yards.
Heading into halftime tied 20-20, the Midshipmen broke the game open in the third quarter —outscoring the Cougars 21-7 — sparked by a 54-yard interception returned for a touchdown.
A season-high nine saves by sophomore goalkeeper Rachel Estopare weren’t enough as the Cougars fell to No. 21 University of Connecticut 1-0 at the Carl Lewis Complex Sunday afternoon.
The Cougars (6-4-1, 1-3) were able to fend off 19 shots by the Huskies, but UConn forward Erin Spillane found the back of the net in the 74th minute.
Estopare played all 90 minutes in the goal for the Cougars and has allowed just five goals in seven matches with 32 saves.
The Cougars continued to struggle on the road over the weekend, dropping matches to both the University of Central Florida and University of Southern Florida on the trip.
Playing at USF because of the threat of Hurricane Matthew, the Cougars (5-12, 0-6) fell 3-0 to UCF (20-25, 19-25, 20-25) Friday afternoon and 3-1 to USF (13-25, 21-25, 25-23, 12-25) Sunday.
Junior setter Keandra McCardell totaled 55 assists over the two matches, moving her into seventh place all-time in Cougar history.
Junior outside hitter Brianna Lynch led all Cougars with 20 kills over two matches, while freshman Faith Squier picked up a career-high 14 kills on Sunday.