Women’s soccer bound for Sweet 16

Women’s soccer (17-0-1) is that much closer to their dream of winning the national championship, after they secured a spot in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament last Sunday, soundly defeating second-round opponent Husson in a 3-0 shutout.

“Everyone was really happy about today’s win and very excited to have another week down on Cole field,” said co-captain Clare Gallagher ’09.

Williams dominated the field from the start, taking 11 shots to Husson’s two in the first half. Despite the squad’s strong offensive play, the game remained scoreless until just minutes before the halftime whistle. The Husson defense played well, preventing Williams from some very close scoring opportunities, while the windy weather and the occasional hail of sleet provided another challenge for the Ephs.

Finally, in the 42nd minute of play, Sarah Walmsley ’10 placed her cross right in front of the goal and Brett Eisenhart ’12 was there to knock it in the back of the net, establishing a halftime score of 1-0.

Intensity picked up in the second half as the Ephs fought to maintain their lead. Early in the half, the Braves seemed to be set for a tie-up when their forward Shelby Bradford launched a shot from outside the box, but keeper Lauren Sinnenberg ’10 came up with the block.

Although Husson’s dance squad-esque tights may have looked a little silly, they proved useful in the second half as the hail, wind and cold began to take their toll. One Williams player after another seemed to fall victim to cramps and pulled muscles, and play was stopped frequently.

Fortunately for Williams, this did not throw off the Ephs’ offensive flow. In the 63rd minute Brianna Wolfson ’10 took the ball upfield. Like she has done so many times this season, Wolfson dribbled around the defense and fired a perfectly placed shot from the top of the box to extend Williams’ lead to 2-0.

Sara Wild ’11 then launched a free kick into the back of the net 10 minutes later. The match ended in a 3-0 shutout, ending Husson’s season and securing a spot for the Ephs in the third round of the NCAA tournament.

Last year, the Ephs suffered a surprise loss to Hamilton in the Sweet 16 round, ending their hopes of an NCAA championship. This year, however, they are more experienced and better prepared.

“We are in the same position we were in last year,” said Gallagher. “We know what it is like to play in a Sweet 16 game and we are ready to work extremely hard this week to control our fate for the next round of the tournament.”

The women will face the College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in the third round of the NCAA tournament. The game will take place Saturday at 11 a.m. on Cole field. Williams will also host the NCAA match between Ithaca Collage and Lynchburg College at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“TCNJ is a very organized team and we are ready to work hard this week to prepare ourselves for the battle on Saturday,” said Gallagher.