Hamilton eliminates women’s soccer

Women’s soccer ended its season two weeks ago, when the team unexpectedly fell to eighth ranked Hamilton in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament. It was Williams’ first loss of the season, and it ended its bid for an NCAA championship.

Seeded sixth, and playing at home, the Ephs had high expectations entering the tournament. With an undefeated regular season, the NESCAC championship title and a defense that had only given up four goals on the season, Williams was clearly the favorite entering the Hamilton game. Williams’ failure to capitalize on scoring opportunities cost them the game and their season, as they fell 2-1.

Despite the unfavorably cold conditions, Williams got off to a strong start, maintaining possession of the ball throughout the first half. Williams took several shots on goal, but all of the attempts were either saved or sailed wide. There were a few near breakaways by forward Gabrielle Woodson ’09, and several strong crosses by midfielder Sara Wild ’11, but the Ephs couldn’t find the back of the net. Williams had 10 shots on goal, several of which just barely missed.

With just under five minutes left in the first half, Continental defender Megan Brousseau cleared the ball and hit Hamilton forward Erica Dressler in stride. Dressler raced toward the goal as the Eph defenders attempted to regain position, but it was too late. Dressler approached the goal from the left post, and then hit a strong ground ball towards the right post. Eph goalkeeper Lauren Sinnenberg ’10 dove, but the ball was already in the goal.

Just over 10 minutes into the second half the Continentals scored again. This time it was midfielder Anne Gravely who took the ball from midfield all the way to the goal. An Eph defender was with her almost the entire way, but as Gravely approached from the right post, she was able to get a shot off that slipped past Sinnenberg and found its way right behind the far left post. The Ephs had not allowed two goals in a game all season, and they would have to battle back in order to keep their perfect season alive.

Just a minute after the Continentals’ second goal, the Ephs finally capitalized when they were awarded a penalty shot following a Hamilton foul in front of the Continentals’ goal. Captain Kaolin McEvoy ’08 had a perfectly placed penalty shot that bounced off the underside of the crossbar and bounced straight down, just barely breaking the goal line.

The Ephs hit another snag when Williams’ leading scorer, Woodson, fell hard on her left arm in the second half. Woodson returned later with her arm bandaged, but it was obvious that she was not playing to her full potential. Despite Woodson’s injury, Williams still had several opportunities in addition to the penalty shot, but the team could not get the ball past the Continentals’ goalie, who finished the game with eight saves. Then the time finally ran out, and Williams’ magical season came to an end.

Although they fell in the Sweet 16, women’s soccer still has reason to be proud; this was without a doubt one of the best seasons in the history of the program.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” McEvoy said. “We’ve made NESCAC history by being the number one seed and winning the tournament. We’ve made program history because we had never hosted before this year. We have trained nine months for this season and I am so proud of every single individual on this team.”