No. 13 women’s soccer (10-2-1, 7-1-1 in the NESCAC) defeated Colby 2-1 on Cole Field last Saturday in the penultimate game of the regular season. After a defensive battle in the first half, the teams combined for three goals in the second in an affair that went down to the wire.
Although play in the first half was fast-paced and aggressive, both teams struggled offensively. The Ephs and Mules had equal time of possession, but each of their alternating attacks were ultimately stifled. As the half progressed, however, Williams took control of the game’s pace, and tri-captain Brett Eisenhart ’12 ended the half with three shots on goal, all of which were stopped by Colby keeper Emily Brook.
In the second half, the Mules got on the board first with a goal in the 50th minute off a corner by Mule Grace Dickinson. Eph keeper Laura Wann ’13 punched the ball out of the goalmouth on a corner kick, but the ball only traveled to the top of the six. A waiting Mule attacker headed the ball toward the net, and Wann knocked the ball to the ground. Defender Kristine Nakada ’13 got a foot on the ball just before it crossed the goal line, but a Mule attacker reached the ball and sent it into the back of the net to give the Mules a 1-0 lead.
Just three minutes after Colby’s goal, Williams responded with a run at the net. Alison Magruder ’15 dribbled the ball down the left flank and shed her defender, sending a beautiful cross into the box to an approaching Eisenhart. Eisenhart dove in an attempt to get her head on the ball, but the Mule keeper beat her to the ball and cleared it.
In the 54th minute, Magruder again ran down the left flank and played a lofted ball to Eisenhart. The senior again dove, this time getting her head on the ball and sending it past the keeper into the back of the net. The goal tied the game at 1-1.
Eisenhart’s score marked her 41st career goal, making the tri-captain the program’s all-time leading scorer. She surpassed the previous mark of 40 goals set by Stacy Starner ’03.
In the 71st minute, tri-captain Nicole Stenquist ’12 ripped a low-driven shot from 20 yards out to the right corner of the goal, but the keeper made a diving save, maintain the 1-1 scoreline.
Colby responded to Stenquist’s shot with an attack down the left flank of the women’s defense: A Mule attacker sent a shot sailing toward the top right corner of the net, but the shot hit the crossbar and went out of bounds.
The Ephs’ game-winning goal came in the 80th minute. Stenquist possessed the ball in the midfield and saw Lilly Wellenbach ’15 as she made a run down the center of the field. Steinquist played the ball over the top, and Wellenbach beat her defender in a foot race to the ball as the Mule keeper approached the top of the 18. The rookie center back, who had been moved to striker as a part of the Ephs’ efforts to score, poked the ball past the Mules’ diving keeper to give the Ephs a 2-1 lead. Williams controlled play for the remaining 10 minutes and held on for a 2-1 victory over Colby.
“We emphasized keeping the ball [in the second],” Stenquist said. “We gave the ball away quite a lot in the first half, so at halftime we emphasized staying calm on the ball and playing to feet so we could possess.”
Wann recorded two saves in 90 minutes of play.
“I was so proud of the team for coming back from behind,” Head Coach Michelyne Pinard said. “I think this shows how resilient and focused they are. This team gets stronger and stronger with every week and every challenge that is placed in front of them.”
Williams will play at Middlebury today at 2 p.m. A victory or a draw guarantees the women the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. On Saturday, the women will host a NESCAC quarterfinal game. Their opponent will be determined by today’s play throughout the NESCAC.