Field hockey bests Jeffs 3-0 in tourney

She may wear number 17 on her jersey, but number one might be more fitting for Steff Noering ’03.

The senior forward saved her best for when it counted the most, scoring two goals and adding an assist as the second-seeded Ephs defeated Amherst 3-0 in the opening round of the NESCAC playoffs. In leading her team to the semifinals, Noering established herself as the most prolific scorer in Williams history, breaking the career points record that had previously been held by her head coach, Alix Rorke ’93.

But despite her accolades, the modest Noering is quick to direct all praise elsewhere.

“It’s all because of my teammates,” Noering said. “I could never have broken a record like that alone. It’s a result of all the dedication and hard work of my teammates.”

With Noering leading the way, the Ephs avenged a bitter 1-0 defeat to the Lord Jeffs – who came into the tournament seeded seventh – only a week ago. Williams out shot Amherst 11-1, and managed to finished in the circle, something that had plagued them in the first meeting with the Lord Jeffs.

“The last time we played Amherst, we definitely didn’t play our best,” Rorke said. “But today we really showed what a great team we are.”

Midway through the first half, the Ephs drew first blood. After several crisp passes inside the circle, Noering made a beautiful feed to Tori Scott ’04 down low, who beat goalie Anne McMullin for a 1-0 lead. The Ephs carried that lead throughout the half, as the Jeffs failed to muster a single shot on Eph keeper Wendy Stone ’05.

Amherst came out with more intensity to start the second period, but the Williams defense held up strong, denying several corners and scoring chances. With the backline remaining solid, Noering, like all great players do in big games, took over.

Twelve minutes into the second frame, Ephs forward Jay Gregory ’06 found Molly Jennings ’04 on a penalty corner. Jennings in turn found Tara Boyd ’05, whose blistering shot was redirected into the net by Noering for a 2-0 lead.

Soon thereafter, McMullin was yanked in favor of K.C. Cosentino, and Noering greeted her with her second goal of the game to cap the scoring.

“A 1-0 lead at the half against a team like Amherst really didn’t give us much of an edge to be comfortable with,” Rorke said. “But once we scored that second goal, everyone gained a bit more confidence, which allowed us to really settle in and play out the rest of the game smoothly.”

While the dominating performance over the Lord Jeffs was impressive, the final regular season game a day earlier was much more dramatic. Locked in a 0-0 tie with Wesleyan, Jennings took a pass from Scott down low and scored the only goal of the game with two seconds remaining on the clock. The officials deliberated for several minutes, but ultimately decided that the goal was good.

“Wesleyan is a great team,” Rorke said. “They have excellent speed and determination on the field and they are a very tough team to score on.”

Stone played a tremendous game in front of the net, making six saves. Including the Amherst game, she has seven shutouts on the season.

The winning weekend now sets up a semifinal match up with Middlebury. In early October, the Ephs slammed the Panthers 3-1 at Cole Field. This coming weekend, the final four will be held at Bowdoin. The top-seeded Polar Bears take on fourth-seeded Wesleyan in the other semifinal. The winner receives an automatic berth to the NCAA playoffs.