Women’s soccer stays undefeated

Women’s Soccer continued its hot start to the season by adding Trinity College and Western New England College (WNEC) to its list of beaten opponents. The week’s work improved their record to a perfect 6-0 and 3-0 in NESCAC. In addition, the strong performances so far this season have finally led to recognition from the NCAA. Williams moved into the top 25 for the first time this year after the win against WNEC – they now stand at No. 24.

“Offensively we have been wearing teams down with our depth,” said Stacey Starner ’03. “They have a hard time keeping up with us for the full 90 minutes.”

Head coach Lisa Melendy pointed to the solid work of the Ephs’ defense led by Colleen Doody ’03, and bolstered by Trisha Barbosa ’02, Maggie Lee ’04, Daniela Bailey ’05 and Kristen Van Woert ’04. It has been easy to forget their reliable play this year with the barrage of scoring, courtesy of the prolific offense. However, these goals have only stood up because the defense has allowed a measly three goals on the year.

On Saturday, Williams used these qualities to full effect when they traveled to face Trinity. They came away with a dominating 3-0 win. Williams took the lead in the 26th minute of the first half, on an unassisted goal by Van Woert from 30 yards out. Lindsay Dwyer ‘05, continuing to impress with her scoring touch, put home a rebound in the 42nd minute to leave the halftime lead at 2-0. Claire Samuel ’03 applied the finishing touches by beating two defenders to turn and score in the 64th minute.

The defense was again suffocating, contributing to a 14-6 advantage in shots for Williams. Abi Jackson ’03 collected four saves in the win.

Earlier in the week, Williams defeated an overmatched WNEC squad by a score of 4-0. A small, but dedicated group of fans braved overcast skies to witness the contest at soggy Cole Field. They were warmed by a resounding display of attacking soccer, coupled with a resolute defense.

WNEC (5-4) was unable to mount much offense, or at times even cross midfield, thanks in large part to the efforts of the wing defenders, Barbosa and Bailey who proved too quick and skilled for the Golden Bear forwards.

With the possession time overwhelmingly in their favor, it was only a matter of time before Williams would score. The first goal arrived in the 30th minute of the first half. Van Woert took a pass from Starner amidst a sea of Golden Bear defenders, bulled through a pair of them, and beat the goalie at close range. On the heels of that goal came a slew of scoring opportunities, but through a combination of bad luck and work from WNEC keeper, Jessica Vital, the score remained an unsatisfying 1-0 despite 12 shots on goal.

The Ephs wasted no time adding to that advantage when they came on for the second half. Just 52 seconds in Dwyer brought the ball forward on a 3-on-4 transition, patiently avoided the defense and then led the ball forward for Starner. Starner split and outran two defenders, got the ball past goalkeeper Joyce Blake and fired into the open net to make it 2-0.

The final two goals came in the middle of the second half. Lydia Crafts ’04 fought off a defender to collect a Starner cross and released a solid finishing effort. Later, Samuel concluded a day of good chances by chipping in a clever ball from Van Woert past Vital.

With Amherst’s recent loss to Trinity, Williams is in sole possession of first place in the NESCAC. However, they have yet to play a team with a .500 record or better in the conference, and this clouds any clear impression as to how good the team really is. Regardless, there is no doubt that they face their biggest challenge yet this week against Middlebury, the defending NESCAC champ, as well as Bates and Colby. Middlebury is 6-2 overall, but just 3-2 in the conference, having lost to Tufts and Bates.

“The hardest part of our schedule is beginning with Middlebury, who is definitely one of our biggest games,” said Starner. “But we have been able to step up when we faced the tougher competition, like Bowdoin. If we continue on the way we are going, we should be tough to beat.”

The Williams-Middlebury match will be held at Middlebury, Vt., on Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. Next weekend, the Ephs will host Bates (6-1, 2-1) and Colby (4-1, 2-1) on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Both games are slated to start at 1 p.m.

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