Women’s soccer stifles Wheaton, Bates with consecutive shutouts

No. 11 women’s soccer (2-0-0, 1-0-0 in the NESCAC) impressed last weekend, winning both its games on the road with shutouts to start the season strong. On Saturday, the women won their first conference game, defeating Bates 2-0. On Sunday, they followed up with a second straight win against Wheaton with a 1-0 victory.

Against Wheaton on Sunday, the women built on their momentum from their opening victory over Bates. In the first half, neither team was able to score a goal, although both had several scoring opportunities. The two teams were well matched, with Wheaton taking five shots and Williams managing four. Both keepers made three saves in the opening half.

From the outset of the second half, the women stepped up the intensity, and they found the back of the net only five minutes in. Caitlyn Clark ’13 passed the ball from the right side to Brett Eisenhart ’12 in the box. Eisenhart then slammed the ball past Wheaton keeper Lindsay Leddy and gave the women a decisive 1-0 lead.

The Lyons continued to pressure the Ephs in response, but the defense stayed strong. In the waning minutes of the game, Hannah Van Wetter ’15 stopped Wheaton’s last shot on goal, and the women walked off the pitch with a narrow 1-0 victory.

The second half saw Williams playing a much stronger overall game, creating nine shots on goal to Wheaton’s three. Eisenhart led the way for the Eph attack with four shots. The Ephs also took three corner kicks, while the Lyons did not earn any. In total, the women outshot Wheaton by an impressive margin of 13 shots to eight.

The day before, in the opening game of their season on Sunday, the women came out with force against the squad from Bates. The Ephs dominated the game from early on, keeping the Bobcats’ defense on its toes as the the attack generated steady pressure. By the 10th minute, the women wore Bates’ defense down: Eisenhart turned a pass from Clark into the first goal of the game to give the women a 1-0 advantage.

Bates responded with intensified offensive play. In the 29th minute, the Bobcats were awarded a penalty kick after an Eph defender knocked down Bobcat senior Tina Tobin inside the box. Tobin stepped up to the penalty spot for the kick and drilled the ball at Van Wetter’s goal. Van Wetter, though, was more than a fair match for Tobin and managed to stop the ball, making her first collegiate save to hold the score at 1-0 in the women’s favor.

The Ephs solidified their lead in the 41st minute, scoring to go up 2-0. Hayley Cook ’14 scored off an assist from rookie Alison Magruder ’15.

In the second half, Bates put up a fight, keeping Williams from scoring a third goal. The Ephs’ defense was too strong for the Bobcats, however, who finished the game without scoring a goal. Van Wetter recorded 10 saves for the team, turning in a stellar opening collegiate performance.

The Ephs dominated the first half of the game, scoring two goals and attempting 15 shots, compared to the Bobcats’ zero goals and four shots. In the second half, Bates was able to step up its offense, evening play in the half as each team attempted 11 shots. The two teams combined to commit 24 fouls, and Bates received two yellow cards, both in the second half.

“It was great to get two wins this weekend against very good teams,” Head Coach Michelyne Pinard said.

Eisenhart was awarded NESCAC Co-Player of the Week for her performance.

After claiming their fourth consecutive NESCAC Championship and making it to the quarterfinals of the Div. III National Championship last season, the women are prepared to take on one of the toughest schedules in the division to maintain the NESCAC title and earn yet an NCAA bid. Pinard has been critical to the women’s success, posting a 117-28-17 record in her nine-year tenure as head coach.

The Ephs graduated nine players last year and have added 10 rookies to their roster. “We have a young team, so we are working hard to get on the same page tactically while maintaining a high level of competitiveness,” Pinard said.

The women will play two home games this weekend. First they will take on Messiah on Saturday at 11 a.m. The women will then face Oneonta St. at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.