Women’s soccer downs Camels

It can be a very scary thing to be forced to play a team that has just come off a disappointing result. Just how frightening became apparent to the Conn. College Camels midway through the second half of Saturday’s women’s soccer match on Cole Field.

The Ephwomen, holding a 1-0 halftime lead on a goal by Kate Harkey ’06 in the 37th minute, let loose the frustrations of a trying preseason with two sparkling goals from the left foot of Lindsay Dwyer ’05.

With the Ephs dominating the midfield and possession in the first half, it seemed only a matter of time before the ball found the back of the net. Yet the opportunities for the Ephs were few and far between.

All that changed when Afton Johnson ’05 found Dwyer alone on the right flank. A very nicely weighted ball sneaked over the head of the Camels’ left back, and Dwyer was in the Camel’s backfield alone with the keeper.

“The first one, I was telling myself I had to score,” Dwyer said. “I was right in front of the goal, and we’d let too many of those miss.”

Dwyer calmly collected the ball and slotted it into the side netting of the far post, a textbook shoot. And from there, things only got better.

Head Coach Michelyne Pinard was very pleased to see her team finally gel. “We just figured it out,” she said. “In the second half, we got some movement and we really started to play off of Sarah [Krygowski ’05].”

Dwyer also reflected on what changed, yet likewise could not name the one specific thing that was holding back the offense in the first half. “We just weren’t clicking. We were trying too hard,” she said. “In the second half we just played soccer, and had more fun.”

Dwyer’s second goal was even more fun; not just for the team, but also for the entire crowd. Checking back from her forward position, she played a nifty little chip shot over and around a Camel defender, into the path of back Elise Henson ’06.

Henson’s one-touch pass into space let the speedy Dwyer outrun the entire defense, then cut inside and hammer a shot from 10 yards into the top of the net.

The Ephs continued to push forward and down 2-0, the Camels had to push forward to try and salvage a result, leading to more chances for the Ephs. Brittany Esty ’05 had several chances as she found space and ran off her forwards, including a thunderous left-footed shot that hit the angle. But the Ephs would only add one more goal, when Alix Oliver ’07 hit a driven ball from the right flank that beat the keeper and snuck under the bar.

Saturday’s win followed a poor result against the Springfield College Pride last Tuesday. The Ephs had every chance to score against the Pride but still had to settle with a 0-0 tie after 110 minutes of soccer.

The Ephs had many chances to win that match, including three or four scratch-your-head-and-wonder-how-they-missed-that-one moments. Most glaring was Claire Samuel ’04’s miss from six yards out in the 86th minute.

Pinard was subdued and disappointed after the game. “Bottom line, Springfield got it done,” she said. “We created a ton of opportunities, and part of that is my fault. We spent all preseason working on our back four, and so we’ll have to spend some time this week working up top [before Saturday’s match].”

One positive to take away was that the Ephs’ defense looked very strong. Molly Cahill ’04, the leader of that unit, came away feeling good about the performance of the group as a whole. “Defensively, we looked really good,” the center back said. “We had good communication, and while we had a few lapses late, we held together very well.”

She went on to praise the first-year class for their performance following their first outing. Indeed, six freshmen saw considerable minutes in the match, and while their nervousness was apparent, so too was their skill, pace and quality. A large part of the difference between Tuesday and Saturday was that the understandable nervousness of playing in their first college game was gone, replaced by certainty and confidence.

On Sunday, Dwyer reflected on the apparent disconnect between the two games. “It happens to every team,” she said. “But we have a lot of confidence; we know that we can score. We know that we worked so hard this preseason, and that we’re finally showing what we can do. We’re excited.”

The Ephs’ next game is Wednesday vs. Smith at home, followed on Saturday by their first road trip, a journey to Bowdoin and a chance to avenge a 1-0 loss on Cole Field last fall. So far this season, Bowdoin has outscored their opponents 11-1.