Ephs stampede to NCAA Sweet 16

No.18 women’s soccer (12-4-3) defeated Virginia Wesleyan 1-0 last Saturday in the first round of the Div. III NCAA tournament before advancing to the Sweet 16 by topping Westfield State 2-1 in the second round on Sunday.

Hana Tomozawa
Hana Tomozawa ’15 fed a ball to Caitlyn Clark ’13 in the 27th minute, which Clark slipped into the net to give the women a 1-0 lead over Virginia Wesleyan on Saturday. The Ephs disposed of the Marlins by a final score of 1-0 to advance to the second round. Photo courtesy of the Stevens Institute

Westfield State was first to score in the women’s game in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday, netting a goal just five minutes into the game. Owl Kayley Miller struck a shot on frame that keeper Laura Wann ’13 tipped over the crossbar, giving the Owls a corner kick. Miller sent a ball from the left corner into the box where teammate Kate Wye was able to finish to put the Owls up 1-0 after five minutes of play.

Less than two minutes later, tri-captain Nicole Stenquist ’12 led a counterattack for the Ephs after winning a 50-50 ball. Stenquist rocketed a shot from the left side of the field, but Owl keeper Jess Habif made the save.

After changing their formation to place more players in the midfield, the Ephs controlled play for the remainder of the half. In the 33rd minute, tri-captain Brett Eisenhart ’12 beat the Owl keeper to a cross in the box. The keeper took Eisenhart to the ground and was shown a yellow card, and the Ephs were awarded in a penalty kick. Lilly Wellenbach ’15 finished on the penalty kick and tied the game at 1-1. The rookie has five goals on the season.

The Ephs continued to pressure the Owls offensively but were unable to score again before halftime. The women tallied 18 shots in the half and held Westfield State to six.

Both sides started the second half on the attack. The Owls created the first three scoring opportunities, but one of their shots sailed wide and Wann saved the other two.

In the 70th minute, a foul was called on the Owls, giving the Ephs a free kick. Caitlyn Clark ’13 took the kick from the left side of the field and sent a perfect ball to Stenquist inside the six-yard box. Stenquist found the back of the net for her first goal of the season to put Williams ahead 2-1. Clark was credited with the assist. The 2-1 score lasted for the final 20 minutes of play, and the women stamped their ticket to the tournament quarterfinals for the fifth straight year.

In the first round of the tournament on Saturday, the women disposed of Virginia Wesleyan 1-0. The Ephs started the game on the attack. Carla Nicasio ’14 created the women’s first two scoring opportunities. Her first shot went wide, and Marlin keeper Erica Keil saved the second. Hayley Cook ’14, Hana Tomozawa ’15 and Eisenhart all threatened but ultimately could not find the back of the net.

In the 27th minute of play, Tomozawa passed a ball to Clark in the center of the field, and Clark sent a shot past the Marlin keeper and into the net. The goal gave the Ephs an early 1-0 lead.

The Marlins responded just five minutes later with a shot from Krista Witmer, but keeper Wann was there to make the save and maintain her team’s 1-0 lead.

Neither team scored in the remaining minutes, and Williams walked off the field with a 1-0 victory. Though they only scored one goal, the Ephs tallied 11 shots in the game and limited the Marlins to just five.

Head Coach Michelyne Pinard emphasized that the team is hitting its stride at the appropriate time. “Our focus is on continuing to get better each and every day,” she said. “It is an exciting time for us, and as a coach, I feel like I continue to learn more about our team each week. This is a really tough, resilient and focused group.”

The women advance to the Div. III NCAA Sweet 16 with the win. They will face Emory at 1:30 p.m. in Geneva, N.Y. William Smith will host the game.