Women’s soccer (10-3-2, 5-2-2 in the NESCAC) will advance to the NESCAC semifinals thanks to a crushing 4-1 victory over Little Three rival Wesleyan on Sunday. The win marks the second time the Ephs and the Cardinals have met this fall; the teams tied 2-2 in the Ephs’ first game of the season on Sept. 11. Williams now leads the all-time series 28-4-2. Sunday’s win comes on the heels of a 3-0 victory over Middlebury on Wednesday, a win that allowed the women to end the season on a high note.
“Things were different this time against Wesleyan, first because we got to play on a much bigger field, so we could run them down a lot more,” tri-captain Kara Duggan ’11 said. The team has been “working on picking apart the [opposing team’s] defense and finding seams –– and I think that showed this weekend against both Midd. and Wesleyan.”
Williams dominated the offense on Sunday, outshooting Wesleyan 17-7. Brett Eisenhart ’12 jump-started the attack, scoring off a pass from Caitlyn Clark ’13 in the first minute of the game. Clark put the ball into the 18-meter box, where Eisenhart collected it, outrunning the defenders to place the ball in the back of the net. Wesleyan responded three minutes later when Cardinal first-year Kerry Doyle put the ball behind Laura Wann ’13 to tie the game at 1-1. The goal was only the fourth that Wann has let in all season. She finished the half with one goal against and one save. Bridget Gallagher ’13 put the Ephs ahead 2-1 in the 33rd minute, scoring her second goal of the year. The game stayed at 2-1 in Williams’ favor for the remainder of the first half.
“We are starting to put together all the pieces that we have been working on all year,” Head Coach Michelyne Pinard said. “From the backs to the midfielders to the forwards … we’ve been working on just executing all aspects of the game.”
Eisenhart struck again early in the second half, making a sliding shot to put the ball into the net. Gallagher claimed her second assist of the year after beating her defender to slip the ball to Eisenhart.
Both teams kept up the pressure throughout the half, with Wesleyan putting two shots on Eph netminder Julia Schreiber ’11. Schreiber, who replaced Wann in the second half, recorded her 33rd save of the season by the end of the game, giving her a .999 save percentage.
Eisenhart scored her 11th goal of the season in the 64th minute to loft the Ephs above the Cardinals 4-1. Eisenhart came down the left side of the field, faked to the middle and beat her defender to the outside to score. The women managed to hold their lead until the final buzzer to advance to the NESCAC semifinals.
Williams also trounced Middlebury 3-0 in both teams’ regular season closer on Wednesday. The game also marked Williams’ senior day. All nine of Williams’ seniors played in the game, and tri-captains Tyler Rainer ’11 and NESCAC Player of the Week Sara Wild ’11 scored two of the Ephs’ three goals.
The first half remained scoreless, with both teams battling hard for a third place finish in the con-ference. After the break, however, Williams came out ready to play: In the third minute of the half, Wild took a corner kick that Clark then redirected into the net, tucking the ball under the crossbar for a 1-0 advantage to start the half.
Minutes later, Gallagher slid the ball through Panther keeper Lauryn Torch’s hands to Wild, who put the ball into the net to widen the lead to 2-0. Ten minutes later, Wild found Rainer on the left sideline, from which Rainer took a long hook shot for a 3-0 lead.
With 26 minutes left to play, the game was far from over. Both teams ratcheted up the intensity, the Ephs striving to finish the game with the win and the Panthers attempting to score on Wann. Middlebury had one quality chance with two minutes left to play, but after a few harrowing moments, Williams cleared the ball to close out the game with a commanding 3-0 lead.
The Ephs and the Panthers will meet again on Saturday in the semifinal round of the NESCAC Championship. Duggan believes that the team will “need to come out firing on all cylinders” in order to beat the strong Middlebury squad for the second time in two weeks. “We are going to focus on everything that needs to be done both mentally and physically this week so that we can put our best soccer together this weekend,” she said.
The game will be held at NESCAC No. 2 Amherst at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.