Women’s soccer (9-2-1 overall, 6-1-1 in the NESCAC) bounced back from a 3-0 loss to Amherst at home on Oct. 8 to rip off three straight conference wins. The women defeated Conn. College 2-0 in New London last Sunday after defeating Tufts 1-0 the day before on the road and Trinity 1-0 at home on Oct. 9.
Williams was dominant in Sunday’s road victory over Conn. College. The Ephs took the lead in the 28th minute, when Caitlin Clark ’13 crossed the ball from the right side of the field to tri-captain Brett Eisenhart ’12 on the right side of the box; Eisenhart took a touch with a defender on her left before driving the ball to the left post. Tufts goalkeeper Natalie Stignor, stranded on the right hand side of the net, did not stand a chance: Eisenhart’s strike rippled the net and gave Williams a 1-0 advantage. The goal was Eisenhart’s team-leading ninth of the season, and Clark’s assist was her team-leading seventh of the season.
“[Clark] is an incredible play maker,” Head Coach Michelyne Pinard said. “Her vision and distribution allow her to put teammates into great goal-scoring situations.”
The Ephs controlled the rest of regulation, outshooting the Camels 10-4 overall on the match and forcing the Camel goalkeeper into six saves. Nevertheless, the women were unable to score again until the 89th minute, when Lilly Wellenbach ’15 tallied the first goal of her career. Wellenbach, who typically plays central defender, received the ball on the ground at the top right of the six from Carla Nicasio ’14. Wellenbach then drove it into the back of the net to put the Ephs up by the final score of 2-0.
Williams goalkeeper Laura Wann ’13 made one save on the match.
With Sunday’s victory, the women secured home field advantage for the NESCAC quarterfinals. “Having homefield advantage is a great start to the playoff season for us,” Eisenhart said. “While we have been successful on the road, I also think we have the opportunity to prove ourselves to our fans on Cole [Field].”
Saturday’s showdown at Tufts was slightly more challenging for the women. The Ephs outshot the Jumbos 9-6 in the first 45 minutes but were unable to break through the Jumbo defense.
The women kept their cool, though, scoring immediately out of the half time break. In the 46th minute, Clark drew the Tufts defense on the right side of the field before serving the ball into the box, where Hana Tomozawa ’15 was waiting to drive the ball home at the near post. It was the first goal of Tomozawa’s tenure as an Eph.
Williams continued to threaten Tufts through the rest of the match, as the Ephs took eight shots in the half to the Jumbos’ four. Neither team was able to score for the remainder of the second half, and Williams walked away with the 1-0 victory. Wann had one save in the game.
“After our last home weekend with Amherst and Trinity, we struggled a bit to find the back of the net,” Eisenhart said. “We are really looking forward to playing at home again and playing the most competitive game we can.”
On Oct. 9, Williams faced off with Trinity on Cole Field. The Ephs struck only 12 minutes into the match: Clark took a free kick from left side of the box, which bounced just in front of the right post. Eisenhart was there to take advantage, knocking the ball into the back of the net to give the Ephs a 1-0 lead. The tri-captain’s goal proved decisive, as neither team scored through the rest of the match, and Williams walked away victorious.
“Goals early on in big games often define the rest of the 90 minutes,” Eisenhart said. “While anything can happen, early goals help our team feel confident and relaxed on the ball and deflate our opponent’s confidence as the clock ticks down.”
Williams fell to rival Amherst 3-0 the day before, also at home. The game was more balanced than the scoreline suggest: The Ephs in fact controlled the majority of the possession and outshot the Jeffs 24-16. However, the Jeffs took advantage of the opportunities they created, putting the Ephs behind with goals in the ninth and 24th minutes before settling in to a strictly counter-attacking style of play to protect their lead. Williams was unable to break through, and Amherst scored again on a counter with less than four minutes remaining in the game. It was the Ephs’ first loss of the season.
Williams now prepares for a showdown with Colby at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The Ephs have just three games left in the regular season and will look to maitain or improve on their second place standing in the conference heading into the NESCAC tournament.
“We need to keep competing and getting better every day,” Eisenhart said. “Nothing is given to us, and we need to work and battle in these next games. The NESCAC is a competitive league, and [who wins] often comes down to who steps on the field ready to go and hungry for the win.”
Pinard hopes to tune up the women’s defense in the final games of the season. “We have been focusing on cleaning up our defensive scheme,” she said. “Defending isn’t just about the backs. We defend with 11 [players], and everyone is more on the same page than ever.”