Loss is women’s soccer’s first since 2000 in a regular season contest

In an up and down week for women’s soccer, the Ephs (3-1, 1-1 in NESCAC play) split a pair of contests versus the Smith College Pioneers and NESCAC foe Bowdoin College. Williams topped Smith 4-1 on Sept. 18, but suffered a tough loss to the Polar Bears 1-0 on Sept. 21.

The defeat ended the Ephs’ 16-game regular season winning streak, and was Williams’ first such setback since a 1-0 loss to Bates on Nov. 4, 2000.

“We played well, even in the loss,” Head Coach Michelyne Pinard said. “Unfortunately, sometimes the scoreboard doesn’t reflect how the game was played on the field.”

Bowdoin (3-0-1, 1-0-1 NESCAC) sophomore Kendall Cox provided the only score of the game, converting on a direct kick from 30 yards away at 17:34.

Lining up on the right side of the field, Cox ripped the ball just under the crossbar and off the gloves of leaping Eph goalkeeper Lindsay Starner ’05. From then on, both teams had several opportunities to score, but neither side was able to convert.

“We definitely had our chances,” Pinard said. “Somehow they were just able to keep us off of the scoreboard.”

Williams picked up the intensity in the second half, narrowly missing on several attempts. In the 84th minute, it looked as if the Ephs were going to even the score as Brittany Esty ’05 booted a shot past Polar Bear goalkeeper Anne Shappell. However, a Bowdoin defender stepped in and got a head on the shot, knocking the ball away from the net and out of danger.

Just over a minute later, the Ephs again challenged the staunch Polar Bear defense, creating Williams’ best scoring opportunity of the day.

Stacey Starner ’03 collected the ball just past midfield, then fed a perfect lead pass down the left sideline to Claire Samuel ’04. Samuel beat defender Leah Bressack to the ball and headed straight for the Bowdoin goal, where she was tripped up during a scramble five yards from the net.

Then, with the pressure mounting, Starner pulled the ensuing penalty kick just wide of the goal. The shot bounced off of the outside of the bottom left post, caroming harmlessly out of bounds to give the Polar Bears a goal kick.

Williams continued to attack as time wound down, earning a free kick from the left side with just under a minute to play. After that effort was denied and the Polar Bears cleared the ball, Hannah Stauffer ’05 took a final desperation shot from 40 yards away. However, Shappell easily corralled the attempt, then gave the ball a celebratory boot high in the air as time expired.

The loss dropped the Ephs into a three-way tie with Bates and Tufts for fifth place in the NESCAC. Meanwhile, Bowdoin moved into a three-way tie for first in the conference with Middlebury and Trinity, each of which owns a 1-0-1 NESCAC record.

Earlier in the week, Williams defeated Smith College 4-1 on the road in a non-conference contest. Kate Harkey ’06, Sarah Krygowski ’05, Samuel and Starner each contributed a goal for the Ephs, and Starner collected two saves while playing all 90 minutes in goal. Hannah Wenzel tallied the lone score for the Pioneers (3-2).

The Ephs thoroughly dominated the first half, netting three scores in the first 30 minutes to essentially put the game away. The Pioneers toughened up a bit in the second half and battled to a 1-1 second half draw, but still never mounted a serious comeback.

Harkey opened the scoring at 17:48 with a pinpoint shot into the upper right-hand corner of the net, narrowly booting the ball over the outstretched hands of Pioneer goalie Monica Jarman.

Krygowski followed with a goal at 20:58, tucking the ball into the left corner of the net after an assist by Colleen Doody ’03. Samuel then scored unassisted at 30:00, and Starner added a second-half insurance goal at 51:58.

Wenzel finally put the Pioneers on the board with a direct-kick goal at 71:58, but time expired before Smith could get any closer.

Starner, who finished with one goal and one assist, now has 36 career goals and 88 career points, moving her well within striking distance of the all-time Williams records of 38 and 89, respectively.

The Ephs have put themselves in a bit of a hole in their quest to repeat as regular season NESCAC champs, but plenty of time remains for Williams to claw their way back to the top. Of the six teams either tied or ahead of Williams in the NESCAC standings, the Ephs will play five in the upcoming weeks.

Williams will next take on Wheaton College in a non-conference contest at Szot Park in Chicopee, Mass., at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 24. The Ephs will then resume NESCAC play on Sept. 28 against the first-place Trinity Bantams at 12 p.m. on Cole Field.