Soccer settles for tough split

It was not the prettiest of weeks. Women’s soccer (3-2-1, 2-1-0 in the NESCAC) split its two games this week. Saturday, the Ephs beat NESCAC rival Trinity in Hartford 2-1, rebounding from a 2-0 loss to national top-10-ranked Wheaton on Wednesday. But then, for young teams like this year’s Ephs, these kinds of games early in the season may lay the foundation for later successful games.

“We’re not quite there yet,” Head Coach Michelyne Pinard said after Saturday’s game. “We got the result, but we have a long way to go. We’ll get there.”

Indeed, the Ephs had a hard time getting going against a Trinity team playing on its home field, on its Parents’ Weekend. Some of the difficulty had to do with injuries to playmakers Brittany Esty ’05 and Hannah Stauffer ’05 and speedy forward Clare Samuel ’04. But with the depth and talent of the entire team, the ability to put together a good linkage even without these players should have been possible. “The game showed that we’re trying to figure it out,” forward Sarah Krygowski ’05 said. “They were a physical team and we had to battle back.”

Instead of an inspired team performance, the Ephs rode the play of Lindsay Dwyer ’05 all day. The forward scored one goal, the game winner in the 64th minute, and assisted on a first half strike by Kate Harkey ’06. But her contribution went beyond the scorebox.

Back Afton Johnson ’05 put it most succinctly, “If Lindsay doesn’t show up today, we lose,” she said. With her pace, and hustle and determination, Dwyer was singled out by Pinard for praise as having an “awesome game.”

While her inspirational play was important, the ability of the junior to help her team find the back of the net was what allowed the Ephs to come away feeling okay about the game. Dwyer’s assist came off a ball driven into the middle that Harkey touched past the Bantam goalkeeper and then knocked home, giving the Ephs the lead at halftime.

After Trinity had equalized the score ten minutes into the second half, Dwyer struck again. A nicely hit ball by Alix Oliver ’07 found Dwyer in the middle of the goal. With an easy touch to bring the ball down, the junior settled herself and then slotted the ball with her left foot into the right hand corner.

From there, the Ephs hung on against a closing flurry by the Bantams. Sarah Ginsburg ’07 was strong in net, and, helped by her backs, was able to keep the equalizer out of the net.

Krygowski, who has been repeatedly singled out by Pinard as an under-appreciated target for the Eph offense, came away feeling a little worried about the game. “I wasn’t happy with how we played,” she said. “I don’t think many people on the team were. I’m frustrated with how the season is playing out.”

Such sentiments were on display after the team’s loss to the Lyons of Wheaton on Wednesday, a game in which the Ephs were outshot 21-3 and had not a single shot in the second half. “They’re a really good team,” Krygowski said. “We came out ready to play and battled with them, but we couldn’t get the offense going.”

The Ephs did show, especially in the first half, that they belonged on the same pitch and could play with a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) power, an important lesson that the team must take to heart. A couple of breaks, had they gone the right way, would have given Williams a halftime lead, but the ball always seemed to bounce the wrong way.

The second half, however, was a different story. Wheaton came out, possessed the ball and played almost the entire 45 minutes in the Ephs’ defensive half. Under constant pressure, Ginsburg and her defense were able to shut out the Lyon attack until the 65th minute, when a poorly cleared defensive corner kick allowed a ball to slip through to the backpost, where two unmarked Lyons were sitting. Before any recovery by the defense could take place, Erin Brennan rocketed a ball into the top of the net for a 1-0 Wheaton lead.

The Ephs began to press forward, trying to find a goal, but never were able to get a strong attack going. “The defense played really well,” Dwyer said, but had to resort to long balls that Wheaton easily won. All of the Ephs balls seemed to be either over or under hit. “We just never connected on the field,” Krygowski said. Late in the game, Wheaton capitalized on this disconnect to quickly counter, finding the Eph backs out of position and getting the insurance goal in the 84th minute.

Up this week are three games for the Ephs. Applying the lessons learned from the last two competitive games will be crucial to the Ephs’ progress in the coming week. “We’ve shown we can compete and play good, technical soccer,” Esty said. “We’ve just never done the two at the same time.” That must be the goal of the team this week, to finally put together both aspects in their Cole Field matches against Western New England and NESCAC foes Colby and Bates. Kick-off today against Western New England is at 4:30 p.m., with Colby visiting on Saturday and Bates on Sunday. Both games on the weekend will be played at 11 a.m.