Centre (1-2-1) opens Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference play with a pair of home games next weekend, and the Colonels will enter their nine-game league schedule with a two-game losing streak.
This game became an uphill struggle for the Colonels after Wilmington (5-2) took a 2-0 lead when Tiffani Glaser, who had all three of the Quakers' goals, found the net less than eight minutes into the second half.
"In the second half, they were the better team," Centre coach Jay Hoffman said.
The Colonels are having their ups and downs thanks in part to a lack of depth and the fact that they're still adjusting to Hoffman and his new system. But the first-year coach said they stood toe to toe with a strong Wilmington team in the first half.
"In the first half, I thought it was a very even game," Hoffman said. "I thought we had just as many looks as they did. We had our chances and weren't able to capitalize; they had their chances and were able to capitalize. Even in the first 10 minutes of the second half, we had opportunities to take it to them."
Second goal changes game
But Hoffman said the game changed for good when Wilmington got its second goal with 38:32 to play. The goal came after one of those opportunities Hoffman said his team had, when the Colonels got a corner kick but lost control of the ball and allowed Glaser to dribble the length of the field, leading to a corner kick on the other end that she received and put into the net.
"With a better-dribbled ball (on Centre's end), maybe that wouldn't have been the result," Hoffman said.
After the Quakers took a 2-0 lead, Hoffman said their skill and depth took its toll on Centre.
"Wilmington's a very good team. They're fast, they're dangerous on diagonal balls and they kept rotating players," he said. "(Centre midfielder) Maggie (Ray) told me, 'They've put three different subs on me.'"
Wilmington's Glaser sent a long shot into the upper left corner of the net to make it 3-0 with 10:57 to play. Her first goal came on another long shot 9:03 into the game.
The Quakers, who made the round of 16 in last year's NCAA Tournament, outshot Centre 15-12. Centre goalkeeper Erin Haney had 10 saves.
In its previous game against a nationally ranked foe, Centre played then-No. 14 Washington & Lee to a scoreless tie in the second week of the season.
"I think we came out a lot more ready against Washington & Lee," she said.
Clearly, this game was much more disappointing for the Colonels.
"I know they're frustrated. I'm frustrated," Hoffman said. "But we have to get through it. To do that, we have to continue to be positive and focus on what we're doing well."