Field hockey bested on penalty strokes

Mama always said there’d be days like this.

A scoreless regulation and two frustrating overtime periods were followed by an unfortunate downturn, as Williams lost its first game of the season, falling to Bowdoin 3-0 in penalty strokes. It was the first loss of the year for the Ephs, who fell to 2-1 (1-1 in the NESCAC). Bowdoin improved to 4-1 (1-1). Both teams are locked in fifth position in the conference table, with the Polar Bears holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.

“We played well throughout the game,” Head Coach Alix Rorke said. “But we just couldn’t capitalize in the circle today.”

With the ball refusing to cooperate throughout the contest, the Ephs squandered several golden opportunities. Despite remarkable approach play and quick, concise attacks, Williams failed to capitalize on a number of breakaway attempts and came up short on all 25 corners.

“We just couldn’t finish today,” Stef Noering ’03 said. “We were intense and played aggressively throughout, but their goalie was great and shut us down.”

That Bowdoin goalie, Gillian McDonald, was superb, stopping the Ephs time and time again. Both Noering and Tori Scott ’04 were turned aside on breakaway attempts in the first half, and McDonald stoned Molly Jennings ’04 one-on-one in the second half. The canny goalie also managed to deny Jennings on a penalty stroke in the latter period.

“Their goalie was amazing,” forward Moonjoo Han ’03 said. “She came out and challenged us and we couldn’t get it by her.”

In the best-out-of-five penalty stroke-off, McDonald stopped the first three attempts by the Ephs (taken by Jennings, Becca Kiselewich ’04 and Clare Whipple ’05). Britney Carr, Sarah Laverty and Marissa O’Neil scored in turn for Bowdoin, ending the match and Williams’ hopes, 3-0.

Despite giving up the three extra-time goals, another impressive performance was turned in by Wendy Stone ’05, the converted goalie who made four saves throughout regulation and the two overtimes. Stone exhibited sound positioning and good instincts in the cage, and continues to visibly improve.

“It was a good experience for Wendy to be involved in the penalty strokes,” Noering said.

It was also fortunate for the Ephs that Noering was able to be involved in the later stages of the contest. The Ephs’ captain nearly had to be taken out after colliding head-to-head with another Bowdoin player. However, she managed to keep composed, and returned later in the game. Early reports indicate that Noering will not miss any practice time.

Despite the tough loss to a divisional foe, the Ephs remain optimistic that they will come back strong. Next up in NESCAC is a game against slumping Trinity, who have opened up their conference season with three straight losses.

“This was a good experience for us,” Han said. “It will make us a better team. Alix [Rorke] will have us working on finishing from the circle, and we’ll be ready for the next game.”

Next up for the Ephs is a challenging match against Keene State at home on Thursday at 4:15 p.m.

Perhaps this time, the opposing team’s circle will prove to be a friendlier place.