Women’s soccer wins opener

After a record-breaking, undefeated 2007 regular season, it came as no surprise that women’s soccer put on quite a show against Endicott in their home game debut last Saturday.

The Ephs dominated from the start as standout rookie Brett Eisenhart ’12 put Williams on the board 28 minutes into the game, sneaking the ball into the net with an acrobatic sliding goal. Controlling possession throughout the match, Williams ended the first half with a 1-0 lead that severely underrepresented their dominance of the field.

However, the women hit their scoring stride in the second half, with Gabrielle Woodson ’09, Brianna Wolfson ’10 and co-captain Clare Gallagher ’09 scoring in the 56th, 59th and 64th minutes, respectively.

Five minutes to the final whistle, Endicott finally managed to get the ball in the net, establishing the final score of 4-1. Lauren Sinnenberg ’10 and Julia Schreiber ’11 split time in the goal but received little action, ending the game with a combined total of three saves as Williams outshot Endicott 22-4.

Saturday’s success indicates that the aggression and dominance of last year’s team may very well carry over to the 2008 season. Last year, the Ephs won the NESCAC title and broke a school record with a 17-game winning streak. However, their all-star season was cut short by a surprise loss to Hamilton early in the NCAA Tournament. This year, the squad has a strong season of experience under its belt and fresh motivation for upcoming NESCAC league play.

“Our hopes for this season are simple,” said Head Coach Michelyne Pinard, “work hard, compete harder and enjoy the opportunity to be down on Cole Field everyday.”

The team’s season began well before the girls arrived at Williams. Midway through August, all but the incoming first-years left the U.S. for a training trip in Brazil. The squad spent their first five days at a soccer complex, practicing at least once a day and sharpening their skills in matches against local club teams. From there, the team traveled to the city of Santos, and then to a town called Guaruja, where they were able to enjoy some much-deserved rest on the beach.

“Our trip to Brazil had an impact on how we train,” said Pinard of the trip. “[Brazilians] are so terrifically creative on the ball; we are trying to incorporate those qualities into our play. It is a fun challenge because as American players, we have grown up playing relatively direct soccer with the focus on being organized defensively.”

A more creative playing style will not be the only change for the Ephs this season. Four first-years have stepped in to fill the spots left empty by least year’s seniors, and all have already proved themselves as strong contributors to the team. Eisenhart and Nicole Stenquist ’12 started in the match against Endicott, with Eisenhart scoring the game’s first goal and the normally defensive Stenquist enjoying some time at forward. Midfielder Sachi Siegelman ’12 and forward Erin McGonagle ’12 have also earned significant field time in preseason play.

A number of strong upperclassmen will provide strong leadership and valuable experience this fall. Woodson, who finished last season with 14 goals and seven assists, will be joined up front by Wolfson, last season’s team leader in assists with 10 as well as scoring 10 goals. Co-captains Gallagher and Caitlin Colesanti ’12 will also play a key role in ensuring the success of the team this season, but Pinard is quick to emphasize that no individual player is more important than the rest.

“We have an outstanding team that is 23 strong,” Pinard said, “everyone contributing in different ways all essential to the team success.”

The team will begin conference play at Bates this Saturday.