Women’s soccer splits weekend homestand

No. 8 women’s soccer (3-1-0, 1-0-0 in the NESCAC) recorded its third win of the season on Sunday, as the women handed Oneonta State a 3-0 loss to close out the weekend after suffering a 1-0 defeat against Messiah on Saturday. 

Louisa Costa ’15
Louisa Costa ’15 dribbles the ball in the women’s 1-0 defeat against top-ranked Messiah. Photo by Todd Brenner.

The women, looking to rebound from the previous day’s loss, came out of the gate hard against Oneonta on Sunday: Their first goal came in only the 12th minute of play. The buildup to the goal started with tri-captain Nicole Stenquist ’12 collecting a pass at midfield and driving down the left flank to connect with Samantha Vilaboa ’13. Vilaboa settled the ball and ripped a left-footed shot from just outside the 18-yard box. Her shot sailed into the upper corner of the far post to put the Ephs on the scoreboard 1-0. The goal was Vilaboa’s first since she was shut down for the 2010 season due to an injury. Just a few minutes later, Vilaboa had a chance at a second goal when she received the ball in the box off a free kick by Caitlyn Clark ’13 but her shot was stifled by the Oneonta State keeper.

In the 23rd minute of the first half, tri-captain Brett Eisenhart ’12 found the back of the net to put the Ephs up 2-0. Vilaboa lofted a ball over a pack of Oneonta State defenders to find Eisenhart, who poked the ball past the keeper into the back of the net for her team-leading third goal of the year. Eisenhart’s goal sent the teams to the half with the Ephs leading 2-0.

The women battled through the early second half before finally scoring in the 77th minute. Tri-captain Sachi Siegelman ’12 collected the ball from an Oneonta State clear and  sliced through the defense to hit a shot from the right side of the box. The ball took a bounce into the left corner of the net, notching the women’s third and final goal of the game.

Stenquist was impressed with how the women manipulated Oneonta State’s defense on Sunday. “They play with a back three, like we used to,” Stenquist said, “and that’s really vulnerable, especially given the way we play forward-forward-target with balls in behind, playing one and two touch. It really pulls their defense apart. That’s how we scored today.”

Laura Wann ’14 started in goal for the Ephs, recording two saves on the half; rookie goalkeeper Hannah Van Wetter ’15 relieved Wann in the second half, recording three saves.

Saturday’s game against Messiah proved a greater challenge for the women. The Falcons pressured the Ephs from the opening whistle, leading to an early and ultimately decisive goal.

Eight minutes into the game Messiah’s goal came off a cross from the right end line. Falcon Mackenzie Clapper was waiting on top of the six-yard box and managed to slip the ball past Van Wetter to put Messiah up 1-0 margin.

The Ephs put up a strong offensive challenge throughout the rest of the match. They created four quality scoring opportunities in the remainder of the first half, but Messiah’s defense held strong. The women created five more scoring chances in the second half, but failed to capitalize on their looks.

“What we want to improve on is our ability to keep the ball and take care of the ball so we can get into an attacking rhythm,” Head Coach Michelyne Pinard said.

The women’s defense came up big in checking Messiah’s speedy attacks. Keeper Wann kept busy, recording five saves on the half, while Van Wetter tallied a crucial save in the second half.

“We got an opportunity to play the No. 1 team in the nation, which doesn’t happen every year,” Siegelman said. “We have 10 new freshmen, and I think it’s so great for them to see the best. Now we know what we have to do to get to that level, and I know that we can.”

Although the women did not earn the win, Pinard was impressed with the young team. “I hope we know we can beat a team like Messiah,” she said, “and more than anything, that’s what we take from today. I hope it refocuses us so we know what it’s going to take to beat a team like that, and I hope we are willing to work to get there.”

The women will travel to Wesleyan on Saturday for an 11 a.m. game. They will then host Bowdoin at 12 p.m. on Sunday.