Women’s soccer shut out, 3-0

What do you do when your best player goes down with an injury? If you are women’s soccer (2-1-1, 1-1 in the NESCAC) you make no excuses, but rather try and plug the hole, compete and go about getting a positive result despite the fact that tri-captain Hannah Stauffer ’05 was forced to skip the game due to injury.

Unfortunately, the last part of this plan did not quite work out as the Ephwomen had hoped. On a humid, overcast day in Brunswick, the Polar Bears (4-0, 2-0) used the momentum of a seventh-minute goal to silence the Eph offense, which came into the game averaging almost three goals a game. The Ephwomen lost the contest, 3-0.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Lindsay Dwyer ’05 said. “We came out ready to play and got unlucky a little early.”

After having a goal disallowed by an offsides call within the first five minutes, a breakdown in communication in the back allowed Bowdoin’s Christine Goss to nudge the ball towards the goal line. Goalkeeper Lindsay Starner ’05 pounced on it, but not before it trickled over the line by the barest of margins and dug an early hole for the women to climb out of.

“It was a day when everyone was off,” tri-captain Brittany Esty ’05 said. “We were flat and slow. But we never gave up; our heart was there and we never quit.”

The Ephs almost tied the game in the 14th minute, when Pilar McDonald ’07 got on the end of an Elise Henson ’06 corner, only to see the ball bounce off the post. Two following shots were cleared off the line by Bowdoin defenders.

The half would end with Bowdoin holding a 1-0 lead, before two early second half goals put the game out of reach. “Having that first goal disallowed, and then with a questionable call on the goal, had a huge effect on the game,” Esty said. “If either of those calls – or both – goes the other way, it’s a completely different game. We lost our rhythm and the rhythm of the game.”

Despite missing the game against the Polar Bears, Stauffer concurred with Esty. “[Coming out flat] is an example of the mental aspect of this game,” Stauffer said. “We scored and got called back, and they scored and it was like we didn’t respond, we got befuddled.

“We had plenty of time to rebound and recover. They [Bowdoin] stayed strong and competed, and I give them credit for that.” While the Ephs did know that Bowdoin would be a good team, they were hampered by the lack of key contributors: Stauffer, one of the two midfielders that make the attack click, and Clare Samuel ’04, a forward who is always dangerous because she has such amazing foot speed, who is suffering from an ankle injury.

The loss to the Polar Bears was disappointing, though it was a good chance to show off the depth of which the team is so proud. Sarah Krygowski ’05 and Henson tried to fill Stauffer’s role in the middle, and, while neither of them can replace the junior, both players looked as if they belonged there. “There just wasn’t the spark that Hannah brings,” Esty said. “We missed it.”

That Stauffer was ailing was apparent on Wednesday, when the Smith Pioneers paid a visit to Cole Field. Moving much more slowly than usual, she displayed her usual tremendous skill, scored one goal and assisted on another, but was in such pain that she could not play her normal endline to endline game.

Instead, Esty took over the playmaker role. “She was always involved in the play one way or another,” Dwyer said. “She distributed the ball so well.” Esty scored one goal and assisted on two others in the 4-0 victory, a game that the Ephs dominated. A magnificent cross from left back Afton Johnson ’05 to the backpost that Dwyer headed in was the only offensive action of the first half.

That play was notable because it allowed the Ephs to bypass a Pioneer defense that kept all 11 players within 25 yards of their goal. “They gave us all kinds of space,” Esty said. “We maybe had too much time on the ball, and we needed to play faster.”

Now the Ephs look forward to a Wednesday night match up with national top-ten powerhouse Wheaton College. Last year, the Ephs suffered a 1-0 loss to the Norton, Mass. school early in the season, in a game that could have gone either way. This year, the Lyons are just as highly regarded, and the Ephwomen are looking forward to the challenge.

“I’m really excited,” Esty said. “The whole team is. It’s a chance to get away from the grind of the NESCAC and prove how good we are. Last year was a great game, the most even game we saw and a chance for us to play against our system.”

Game time against Wheaton is at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, at Szott Park in Chicopee (a neutral site). The next NESCAC contest is at Trinity on Saturday at noon.