Women’s soccer (1-0-1, 1-0-1 in the NESCAC) is on a mission this year. The Ephs have made appearances in the NCAA tournament for the past three years, and for the nine seniors, this is their last chance for a national championship. Williams has posted an amazing 55-1-3 record over the past three seasons, including three consecutive NESCAC titles. Each of their three losses have come in the NCAA tournament, with two losses in the third round in both 2006 and 2007 and one in the Final Four in 2008. This season, too, looks promising after a win on Sunday against Conn. College following a 2-2 tie at Wesleyan on Saturday.
Sunday’s game against Conn. College proved a rousing success. The Ephs beat the Camels 3-0 for the sixth victorious year in a row. Williams outshot Conn. 20-9, while goalies Julia Schreiber ’11 and Lauren Wann ’13, who split the game, made one and three saves respectively. One of Wann’s saves came on a penalty kick with 3:48 left in the game to preserve the shutout.
Brett Eisenhart ’12 got things rolling early for the Ephs, scoring a breakaway goal off a feed from Caitlyn Clark ’13 fewer than four minutes into the game. Williams maintained a 1-0 lead for the remainder of the first half, outshooting Conn. College 12-2 on the half.
The first half of the second period remained relatively quiet after the women’s early attack. In the 68th minute, tri-captain Tyler Rainer ’11 found Christine Nakada ’13 charging toward the goal, and Nakada fired a shot past the Camels’ keeper for a 2-0 lead. Eisenhart scored within three minutes to close out the game with a dominating 3-0 finish.
Williams opened their season on Saturday at Wesleyan. This is the second time the Ephs and the Cardinals have opened against each other, but this year’s final score of 2-2 was a much different result than last year’s 5-0 trouncing of the Cardinals. Wesleyan claimed an early lead as Cardinal Laura Kurash scored off a penalty kick in the first minute of play to put the Ephs down 1-0. The women, however, rallied as Annelise Snyder ’11 scored off a pass from Nicole Stenquist ’12 at 16:57. The half closed with the game tied 1-1, though Williams outshot Wesleyan 7-2.
Williams came out of halftime ready to play. Eisenhart added a tally mark twelve minutes in off a pass from tri-captain Sara Wild ’11. The Ephs held on to the 2-1 lead for 13 minutes before the Cardinals slipped one past Schreiber, evening the score at 2-2. Two overtimes yielded no more goals from either side, leaving the score at 2-2 for a conference tie. Schreiber made four saves during the game, while the Ephs recorded 22 shots against the Cardinal defense.
Despite Saturday’s tie, Head Coach Michelyne Pinard saw the team’s rally after the early Cardinal goal as a good sign. “Wesleyan is much improved [from last season], and we played a little tight,” she said. “It was a little tough to start with a PK goal against us in the first 20 seconds, but we responded well to that, which was nice to see.”
Pinard leads the Ephs as she enterx her 10th season. Pinard posts an impressive 122-24-15 record and a .777 win percentage.
“I think [this weekend] was a good start to the season,” two-year tri-captain Kara Duggan ’11 said about the team’s opening games. “We got to see things we need to work on and things that were working for us, so overall we were challenged in both games, and I think that we responded well.”
Many of last year’s key scorers are returning, most notably Snyder, Wild, Eisnehart, Rainer and Samantha Vilboa ’13.
Five first-years join the roster this year, three of whom are looking to flush out the midfield and forward lines, while two will contribute to the defense anchored by Duggan, one of the squad’s key players.
The graduation of Lauren Sinnenberg ’10, one of four players lost last spring, opens up the goalkeeping position. Schreiber, who started in seven of the 13 games she played in last year, will compete for time in the net with Wann, who played in two games last season. Sam Weinstein ’13 will also join the mix, competing with both Schreiber and Wann for playing time in the net.
“This team is sorting through its personality, trying to figure out who we are as a team, and this past weekend was a part of that,” Pinard said.
“We’re taking each game one game at a time,” Duggan said when asked about the team’s goals for the year. “We’re very excited – we have a big doubleheader against William Smith and Oneonta this weekend, [both of whom] we normally see in the Sweet 16 or Final Eight of NCAAs, so that should be a good test for us.”
The women went up against Springfield last night, but results came in too late to report. Williams will hit the road this weekend, traveling to William Smith for a 3 p.m. game on Saturday before playing at Oneonta State at 1:30 p.m. the following day.