Women’s soccer (5-2-1, 2-1-1 in the NESCAC) suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to archrival Amherst at home on Saturday. In the 31 years the teams have been competing, Williams has led the rivalry with a record of 14-13-8, but Saturday brought the two teams even at 14-14-8. Williams had won three of the previous four encounters, the fourth being a tie in 2008. This weekend’s loss also marks the first time in four years that the team has lost a regular season NESCAC game, with this year’s senior class posting an impressive 36-0-2 record against NESCAC opponents.
Both teams entered the first half ready to play, but Williams dominated the first 45 minutes, recording 12 shots on net to Amherst’s seven. The Ephs also had five corner kicks but were unable to get any past Jeff keeper Allie Horowitz. Tri-captain Sara Wild ’11 and Brett Eisenhart ’12 led the Eph offense, combining for 14 of the game’s 23 shots on net. “We created so many quality chances in the first half – if any of those had gone in, it would have been a different game,” Head Coach Michelyne Pinard said.
Julia Schreiber ’11, who played all 90 minutes in net for Williams, recorded four saves in the first half. Despite the Ephs’ dominant offensive drive, the Jeffs also had a few chances, including a breakaway with only 10 minutes remaining in the half. Fortunately, center back Chelsea Davies ’13 outran the Amherst forward and successfully recovered the ball. The game was incredibly physical, with 22 fouls called in the game. Amherst led the rough play in the first half, tallying eight fouls to Williams’ four.
“The game was a tough one,” Pinard said. “It was hard to see the team work so hard and play so well, especially in the first half, and not get the result we wanted.”
Coming out of halftime, both teams hit the turf with zeal, looking for the net. Unfortunately, Amherst rookie Amanda Brisco made it there first, scoring off an outside shot that made it past Schreiber on a bounce. Pinard described the goal, which put Amherst up 1-0, as a “bit of a fluke.”
The goal left the Ephs with 26 minutes in which to score as a sense of determined desperation gripped the field, with each player working hard to tie the game. Williams generated 11 shots on goal in the half, once again out-shooting its opponent. Amherst had just six shots in the second 45 minutes.
The game continued to be physical, with the Ephs taking more penalties than the Jeffs in the second half. Several of Amherst’s fouls were overly aggressive, including one play in which two Jeffs sandwiched Annelise Snyder ’11, causing the Eph to get bounced between the two larger players.
Despite the intense effort in the second half, the women were unable to come back and score, finishing the game down 1-0. Pinard remains optimistic and positive regarding her team’s performance, however. “Sometimes one team dominates and doesn’t win because the other team scores on one of their few scoring chances, but that’s soccer,” she said. “Once we get over the emotional reaction of not winning that game, I hope the team will emerge more hopeful because what needs to be fixed is so simple. I know we are capable of doing a better job finishing, and we still have more games.”
Williams will have ample opportunity to bounce back with six games remaining in the regular season, including five more NESCAC games. The women will host Keene State at 4 p.m. today and will then continue their week at Bates at 11 a.m. on Saturday and at Trinity at noon on Tuesday.