Women’s soccer goes 2-0 to start NCAAs

Led by tri-captain Sara Wild ’11, women’s soccer (14-3-2, 5-2-2 in the NESCAC) swept rounds one and two of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. The team’s 6-0 victory over Brandeis added to Williams’ six-game winning streak and allowed the Ephs to advance to the third round of NCAAs following a 3-0 domination of Lasell College in Saturday’s first-round game. Wild, who was recently named NESCAC Player of the Year, scored four of the Ephs’ six goals en route to Sunday’s win.

Williams started its attack early in the game on Sunday. In the fourth minute of the first half, Caitlyn Clark ’13 crossed the ball to a waiting Wild who then deftly placed the ball behind Brandeis keeper Francine Kofinas. Twenty minutes later, Wild netted her second goal of the game: Forward Brett Eisenhart ’12 found Wild in front of a wide-open net, and the senior’s goal sent the game into halftime with the Ephs up 2-0. The women outshot Brandeis 14-3, and Laura Wann ’14 closed out the first half with no goals against for a .818 save percentage on the season.

Williams really got things going in the second half. Following a foul in the box, Wild was awarded a penalty kick and quickly took advantage of the opportunity, netting her third goal of the game and 11th of the season. Minutes later, Wild once again got on the board, scoring her fourth and final goal of the game for a 4-0 tally.

The Ephs held the 4-0 advantage for another 10 minutes before Kristine Nakada ’13 opened the lead to five with her fourth goal of the season. Jackie Russo ’11 scored the team’s sixth and final goal with 13 seconds left to play. The goal was Russo’s first of the season.

Williams outshot Brandeis 14-7 in the second half, and Julia Schreiber ’11 recorded three saves during her time in net for a .796 save percentage and over 1100 minutes in goal this season.

“I think this Sunday we finally had 90 minutes of great soccer,” Wild said, citing the team’s depth as a crucial advantage. “We are definitely able to exploit other teams’ rare use of substitutes … We rely on all starters and substitutes to put together a win. This is really helpful especially in playoffs, when we play two games in a weekend.”

The Ephs advanced to Sunday’s NCAA second-round game after trouncing Lasell College 3-0 in the first round of the tournament on Saturday afternoon. The game started off slowly, with both teams fighting their way through a scoreless first half, though Williams did outshoot Lasell 10-2 in the first 45 minutes.

The women got things moving in the second half. In the 69th minute of the game, Eisenhart scored her 12th goal of the season, one-touching the ball past the hands of Lasell’s goalie. Two minutes later, Wild got on the board, scoring off a cross-field pass from Bridget Gallagher ’13. Williams expanded its lead to three in the 83rd minute, when Nakada scored off a pass from Hayley Cook ’14, closing out the game with a 3-0 shutout. Wann recorded two saves on the game.

“Both games were equally challenging in different ways,” Head Coach Michelyne Pinard said. “Saturday’s game was difficult because we had to find space that wasn’t there because Lasell put so many numbers behind the ball. The keeper did a great job of coming up with big saves that kept the score 0-0 through halftime. Brandeis is a terrific team and has the potential to break teams down with their attacking speed. Our backs did a wonderful job of keeping them in check and allowed us space to get in behind them early.”

The NESCAC also announced its all-conference teams this past week. In addition to Wild’s Player of the Year accolades, Wild, Eisenhart and tri-captain Kara Duggan ’11 received First Team honors, while Sachi Siegelman ’12 received Second Team recognition.

“We are honored to have so many people representing Williams on the All-NESCAC team,” Pinard said. “Everyone knows that, although they are individual honors, they are a testament to the whole team and team success.”

The team’s wins this past weekend allow the women to advance to the third round of the NCAA tournament. The ninth-ranked Ephs will face No. 14 Eastern Connecticut State on Saturday. The last time the teams met was in 2009, when the women trounced Eastern Conn. 4-1. The game time and location have not yet been announced.

“Everyone is playing at the top of her game,” Pinard said of the weekend. “Our team is in a great place heading into a very big weekend.”

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