Women’s soccer secures NESCAC berth

The Women’s Varsity Soccer team, which earned a #1 NCAA ranking halfway through this year, limped to the finish and barely secured a post-season NESCAC berth. The team has lost its last three games and five of its final seven.

The team’s most recent loss came against Tufts in a heartbreaking 2-0 game. The two teams were scoreless for the first 60 minutes of play, but Tufts went on to score two goals at the end of the second half to grab the victory. Despite out shooting the Jumbos 14-11, the Ephwomen failed to connect with the net.

A few days earlier, the Ephs lost another close game, 2-1 against Connecticut College. The teams were knotted at 1-1 with seven minutes left in the game when Christine Culver of Tufts sent a bullet into the back of the goal. The lone Eph goal was scored by Stacey Starner ’03 with an assist going to Katie Bolduc.

Despite playing what was one of their best overall games of the season, the team suffered a heartbreaking loss to Little Three archrival Amherst on October 14. Playing in front of a hostile Amherst crowd, the Ephs were upset 1-0 in an extremely intense, close game.

At halftime neither team had managed to score a goal, but the consensus was that Williams had had the upper hand in the first half. They had attempted more shots on goal and had placed a constant pressure on Amherst’s defense and goalie. In fact, for the entire game the Ephs had almost twice as much shot opportunities as Amherst, 11-6.

The Ephs never let down their guard; they played with a fierce energy and precise teamwork throughout the half. However, they were not able to convert their offensive chances.

Amherst came out onto the field for the second half ready to attack. They were able to score the game’s first and only goal a little over six minutes into the half. Williams was not able to come back and even the game. The last forty minutes of the game was a tightly matched fight, with both teams desperately trying to gain the upper hand. Williams and Amherst were both able to tighten up their defense and produced a sharp, concentrated effort.

Many of the players believed that this was one of the team’s best efforts of the season; unfortunately, they came out on the losing end. Despite the tough loss, the team is still hopeful about their chances. “We are definitely still optimistic about our season”, said senior co-captain Cameron Walker. “With the NESCAC tournament at the end of the season, everyone still has a chance to go to the NCAAs. We are still going to try to finish off the season with two wins and go into the postseason as strong as possible.”

Earlier that week, Williams played MCLA to a much different result. The Ephs dominated throughout the entire game, winning in a blowout with a final score of 10-0. Williams was coming off of a solid win over Colby after two straight losses. The Ephs had fallen from number one in the national poll to twenty-fifth as a result of the two losses. A victory over MCLA was definitely needed to keep the team continuing on the right track.

Williams got off to a fast start, scoring 42 seconds into the game and never slowed down their attack. By halftime the Ephs were already leading 6-0. The team’s offense worked very well together and the defense played extremely well also. The shutout win was Williams’ sixth shutout of the season. The Ephs had an overwhelming edge in shots attempted, 38-2.

Williams featured a very balanced attack, with eleven different players earning points. C.C. Ciafone ’02 and Katie Bolduc ’01 each scored two goals, and Maggie Lee ’04, Kristin Van Woert ’04, co-captain Cameron Walker ’01, Kathleen Smith ’03, Claire Samuel ’04, and Marlene Bonasera ’02 all scored goals as well. Stacey Starner ’03 had two assists, and Bolduc, Allison Dymnicki ’04, and Lydia Crafts ’04 each had one assist.

The Ephwomen ended the season with an 9-5 record. Despite the end of season tailspin, the team feels that they are playing well heading into their NESCAC tournament matchup against Amherst this Tuesday. Walker said, “Our main goal was to improve with each game and we definitely have done that. Our overall record might not show it, but we feel we have a solid team and we can still go far in the NCAA tournament”.