Amid Saturday’s downpour, women’s soccer (13-0-0, 8-0-0 in the NESCAC) narrowly defeated Tufts (7-5-1, 4-3-1) 1-0 in its last regular season home game to .
The game was the Ephs’ lowest-scoring contest of the year. Tri-captain Brianna Wolfson ’10 scored a controversial goal in the 86th minute to take the game. Wolfson was set up after Sachi Siegelman ’12 played a ball to Sarah Walmsley ’10, whose cross put the ball behind the Tufts’ keeper, giving Wolfson the opportunity to run onto the ball and use her chest to put it into an empty net. Although Tufts argued the shot was a handball, the referees disagreed, putting the Ephs up 1-0.
Rough, messy soccer characterized the match; rain and mud made the Ephs’ typical finesse and style of play nearly impossible, and as both teams became frustrated with the conditions, the level of physicality rose. The first half proved particularly challenging for Williams, and the Ephs were forced onto the defensive.
Tufts had taken advantage of the slippery conditions to play an offensive game in the first half: During the period, the Ephs barely outshot the Jumbos 10-6. However, Williams stepped up its offensive drive in the second half, dominating Tufts with 17 shots to the Jumbos’ four. Sam Vilboa ’13 nearly scored a goal in the 47th minute off her own rebounded shot, but a Tufts defender managed a block. Annelise Snyder ’11 and Bret Eisenhart ’12 also managed a few strong attempts yet simply couldn’t find the back of the net.
Williams’ powerful defense made the difference. Lauren Sinnenberg ’10 was a strong presence in goal, fighting the weather and a barrage of shots to record a shutout with five saves.
This win marked an especially important contest for the Ephs â€“ the team’s most recent regular season loss came in 2006 to the Jumbos in a 1-0 game. Only next weekend’s match-up against the Panthers stands between the first place Ephs and a third straight regular season NESCAC crown.
Tri-captain Kara Duggan ’11 downplayed the Ephs’ recent history with the Jumbos. “It’s always good to get a win no matter who the opponent is,” she said. “Nothing [about Tufts’ game] was really different, they’re just a very good team . . . we knew it was going to be [a tough game] no matter what because of the weather.”
Head Coach Michelyne Pinard also factored in the weather but was quick to recognize the Jumbos’ impressive defense. “We did a good job dealing with a really wet surface. It’s not easy to play a possession style of game in conditions like that,” she said. “Tufts is a really good team . . . [the Jumbos] do a great job keeping the ball in front of them and do a great job defensively.”
When asked about specific opponents Williams looks forward to facing in the NESCAC Championship, Pinard indicated a healthy view of the competition. “We really do respect every opponent we play,” she said. “We recognize that [in] the game of soccer, you can dominate a game and not win, so we finish any opportunities we get and [take] care of the defensive side.”
Last weekend’s game comes on the heels of a Williams win last Wednesday against Keene State (11-5-1), as the Ephs dominated the Owls 3-0. Two of the three Williams goals were scored within five minutes of each other. Twenty-eight minutes into the game, Wolfson drove the ball into the back of the net off a feed from Siegelman, and Vilboa doubled their lead four minutes later. Tyler Rainer ’11 solidified the win with her second goal of the season off of a cross from Walmsley in the 65th minute.
Williams will travel to Middlebury for a 2 p.m. game on Friday before postseason play begins Sunday at Cole Field.