Ephs escape Continentals in quarters

No. 18 women’s soccer (10-3-2, 7-2-1 in the NESCAC) came back from an early 1-0 deficit at home on Saturday in the NESCAC quarterfinals to draw Hamilton 1-1. The Ephs advanced to the semifinals after winning a sudden-death penalty kick round.

Hayley Cook ’14
Hayley Cook ’14 recorded an assist in Williams’ tying goal against Hamilton on Saturday. Photo by Emily Norkett.

The win came after a 1-0 loss at Middlebury in the final game of the regular season on Oct. 26.

Saturday’s match proved challenging. Just 10 minutes in, Hamilton’s Halle Becker received a cross from midfield outside the right corner of the 18-yard box. Becker then rocketed a shot over the hands of keeper Laura Wann ’13 and gave the Continentals a 1-0 lead.

The Ephs built momentum later in the half. With 10 minutes left in the first, tri-captain Sachi Siegelman ’12 beat her defender on the right flank and played a ball to tri-captain Brett Eisenhart ’12 in the middle.  Eisenhart distanced herself from the defender and rifled a shot on goal, but Continental keeper Liza Gergenti made the save.

As the half ended, Lilly Wellenbach ’15 headed a cross from Siegelman toward goal. Gergenti saved the ball, and the Ephs remained down 1-0 the half.

At the start of the second, the Ephs controlled possession. Twenty minutes into the half, Hayley Cook ’14 played a ball to Wellenbach up top. Wellenbach dribbled down the right side of the field and beat her defenders. One-on-one with the keeper, the Eph struck a shot low to the far post and tied the game at 1-1.

The rest of the half was scoreless, leading to two sudden-death overtime periods of 10 minutes each. Neither team created quality scoring opportunities in the first period, but the Ephs applied offensive pressure in the second. Halfway through the second overtime period, Wellenbach beat her defender, but her shot sailed over the crossbar. Four minutes later, Eisenhart hit a low, hard shot on frame that Gergenti barely stopped. Neither team capitalized in overtime, sending the game to a shoot out.

The shootout round began in a best-of-five format. After each team took five shots, the tally was tied at 4-4, and the teams entered a sudden-death round of penalty kicks to break the deadlock. Carla Nicasio ’14 scored on the Ephs’ first shot of the round. Wann then dove left to deny Continental Alyssa DiCosmo’s shot, sending the women to the NESCAC semifinals.

“We all have this fire and desire to win every small battle on the field,” Eisenhart said. “With close games in the playoffs, winning the small battles makes a significant difference in the momentum of the game. We settled for nothing less than a win.”

The thrilling sudden-death win came after Williams lost to Middlebury 1-0 in the final game of the regular season on Oct. 26.

Just 18 minutes into the game, Panther Julia Favorito played a through ball to teammate Rachel Madding. Wann and a defender challenged the ball, but Madding eluded both players and finished on the open goal to put the Panthers up 1-0.

The Ephs created their best scoring opportunities in the second half. With fewer than 20 minutes remaining, Siegelman played a ball up top to Eisenhart, but Panther keeper Jocelyn Remmert got to the ball first. In the 83rd minute, Chloe Kuh ’13 hit a shot on frame, but Remmert made a diving save to solidify a 1-0 Panthers victory.

The women will play second-seed Middlebury in the semifinal round of the NESCAC tournament at Amherst on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Middlebury claimed the second seed in the tournament after defeating Williams.

“I really believe that NESCAC championships are won with grit, toughness, and competitiveness,” said Head Coach Michelyne Pinard.