Women’s soccer advances

Brianna Wolfson '10 fights off an Oneonta defender in the Ephs' 2-1 Round of 32 NCAA victory.
Brianna Wolfson ’10 fights off an Oneonta defender in the Ephs’ 2-1 Round of 32 NCAA victory.

Women’s soccer (19-0-0) trounced Keuka State 5-0 last Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament and followed the win with a hard-won victory over Oneonta State 2-1 on Sunday.

Oneonta took control of the game offensively right at the beginning of the first half. A mere four minutes in, goalkeeper Lauren Sinnenberg ’10 was forced to make a diving save in order to keep Oneonta off the board. At the 17:46 mark, however, the Red Dragons slid the ball past Sinnenberg to put the Ephs at a 1-0 disadvantage.

The half almost expired before Williams answered this early goal, but Sara Wild ’11 managed to get the offense started when she scored off of a direct free kick after teammate Sarah Walmsley ’10 was fouled hard just outside of the 18-yard box.

It still took a good 25 minutes in the second half for the Ephs to ratchet up their game: Late in the 80th minute, Annelise Snyder ’11 dribbled past a whole group of defenders to open up enough space to get a shot off, nailing the ball into the far corner of the net.

It was clear throughout the game that the higher level of competition in NCAAs was testing the prowess of the Ephs; however, the team still managed to record 18 shots in the game, compared to the Red Dragons’ 13. Defensively, the team was not as strong as usual, and Sinnenberg recorded two saves to opposing goalkeeper Jamie Chyat’s seven.

This game differed starkly from Saturday’s competition: Against Keuka, the women wasted no time getting started. Walmsley received a pass at the top of the box from Tyler Rainer ’11 halfway into the 15th minute and crossed a shot from the top of the box directly into the back of the top right corner. Fifteen minutes later, Bret Eisenhart ’12 beat out her defender to slip a ball right past the goalie.

Minutes into the second half, Eisenhart stepped up again to finish a shot started by NESCAC Player of the Year Brianna Wolfson ’10. Wolfson’s shot bounced off the post, and Eisenhart quickly got on the ball and rebounded it just inside the left post. In the 61st minute, Snyder took the ball down the center of the field before playing it to the far right to Walmsley, who powered past the defense to collect the ball and nail a shot into the back of the net. Finally, Christine Jones ’10 scored her first goal of the season off of a corner kick in the 81st minute to put the final score at 5-0.

Head Coach Michelyne Pinard recognized the sharp divide between the Ephs’ easy dominance of Saturday’s game and Sunday’s much more competitive match-up. “Keuka is a younger, less established program, and the pace of play was a little slower on Saturday,” Pinard said. “On Sunday we knew Oneonta was going to be a much faster, feistier, talented team . . . They play a man-marking, counter-attack type style, which is slightly uncomfortable for us because we like to create opportunities [by] moving the ball rather than just whacking it [upfield] and running onto the ball.”

Williams’ dominant and aggressive play on Saturday was reflected statistically as well: Williams outshot Keuka 43 to one. Williams also scored two more goals in the first half that were taken back by the officials after offsides calls.

The team is looking forward to the Sectionals semifinals this weekend and relatively unfazed by the idea of facing stiffer competition as the tournament progresses. “We know we’re going to face The College of New Jersey on Saturday, and they’re the best team we’ve seen so far . . . We need this week to recover from the demands of the season and academics, [but] once we do that, we’ll be raring to go on Saturday,” Pinard said.
Tri-Captain Kara Duggan ’11 agreed with Pinard’s excitement for next weekend. “We want to work hard all week and let the results show on the field,” Duggan said. “[Saturday’s game] should be a great challenge and we’re looking forward to it.”

After last weekend’s wins, the second-ranked Ephs advance to the semifinals of Sectionals this upcoming weekend. Williams will face off against The College of New Jersey at home on Saturday at 11 a.m. The finals of Sectionals will then be played on Sunday between the winners of the semifinal contest and that game is the last stop on the way to San Antonio for the Final Four.