New London - The day before the annual Whale Cup, Connecticut College worked on breakaways in practice.
The drill came in handy for freshman Lily Cannon on Wednesday night in a women's soccer game against Coast Guard Academy.
Cannon showed great poise after collecting a long pass and making a solo run into the goal area. She calmly avoided charging goalie Devin Fellman and shot the ball into the open net for a 2-0 lead late in the first half.
The Camels held off a late charge from the Bears to post a 2-1 victory on the turf at the Coast Guard athletic complex. It was the first win of the season for Conn (1-4-1). The Bears fell to 1-6.
This season has been a learning experience for the young Camels who start five freshmen and four sophomores.
"We're in a little rough patch," Cannon said. "We're a young team, so we just have to work on playing older and having more weight on our shoulders and not act like freshmen but play like seniors."
If not for a terrific defensive play by another freshman, Vivian Vigliotti, the outcome would have been different.
After sophomore Liz Runzi's header in traffic cut the deficit to 2-1 about two minutes into the second half, Coast Guard pressed for the equalizer.
Off a scramble in the box, Coast Guard senior Kelsey Freeman fired from close range toward the left corner of the goal. But Vigliotti, who was stationed on the post, cleared the ball off the line with about nine minutes left.
"We thought it was in," Coast Guard coach Susan Grant said. "It was a great effort. She gave everything that she had to try to get the ball in the goal."
Both teams gained some confidence with their performance in the nonconference soccer game.
The Camels controlled the midfield, with junior Aina Torres and sophomore Astrid Kempainen orchestrating a short passing game.
A struggling offense that had produced just three goals in the first five games generated some dangerous scoring chances. Sophomore Grace Bilodeau's blast into the upper right corner opened the scoring in the 10th minute.
But Fellman's aggressive play prevented the Camels from scoring more than two goals.
Conn College second-year coach Norm Riker is pleased with his team's development overall.
"Fortunately, we got the win tonight," Riker said. "We've been in every game and played really well. And I think we've played with some class. But sometimes the youth catches up to us and we've lost a couple of tough ones late in the game.
"I'm really proud of our effort tonight. ... This is an important win for us."
Coast Guard also showed some improvement.
The Bears, who had just five goals in the previous six games, pushed forward and at times created some extended pressure. Sophomore Lindsay Duplessis hit the top of the crossbar in the game's opening minutes.
"We worked on trying to get more of an offensive presence after our last couple of games, so things we worked on transpired a little bit for us," Grant said.
"We definitely pushed hard. I couldn't be happier."