Women’s soccer captures conference crown

Women’s soccer (12-3-2, 8-1-1 in the NESCAC) outlasted Bowdoin to win the NESCAC championship and claim an automatic berth to Div. III NCAAs with a win in penalty kicks on Sunday.

The victory came after the women dismissed Wesleyan 2-1 on Saturday in the NESCAC semifinal.

Second-seeded Williams opened scoring early in Saturday’s win over four-seed Bowdoin with a goal at 17:45. Abby Morss ’16 carried the ball to the left side of the box. Morss attempted to cross the ball to Lilly Wellenbach ’15, but a Bowdoin player got a hand on the ball and Williams was awarded a penalty kick. Chloe Kuh ’13 took the penalty kick for the Ephs. The senior struck a shot to the left side, eluding the Polar Bear netminder and giving the women a 1-0 advantage at 17:45.

However, the Polar Bears charged back quickly. Bowdoin pushed one past Hannah Van Wetter ’15 at 20:58, tying the game at 1-1. Though both teams had looks at the goal after Bowdoin’s score, the game remained knotted at 1-1 at the half.

Morss had another look at the goal around the 50-minute mark off a cross from Louisa Costa ’15, but the rookie’s shot fired wide right. The game was tied at 1-1 at the end of regulation, sending the game to overtime. In the first overtime, Caitlyn Clark ’13 sent a shot high and Morss fired a shot at 96:25 that the Polar Bears’ keeper denied. Two overtime periods could not decide a winner, forcing the game to a shootout.

In the penalty kick round, Wellenbach had the first look, drilling the ball into the net. Netminder Laura Wann ’14 stepped up to make the save against the Polar Bears’ first attempt before Clark buried another shot into the back of the net. Wann pushed the next Bowdoin shot aside, keeping the women up 2-0 in penalty kicks. Crystal Lewin ’16 stepped up next for the Ephs, placing the ball in net to give them a 3-0 advantage. Bowdoin had no answer, as its final attempt went wide right. With the 3-0 victory in penalty kicks, the women claimed the NESCAC title and an automatic bid into the Div. III NCAA Championships. Wann was named NESCAC player of the week for her impressive performance at goal.

“Winning a NESCAC championship is such an accomplishment because the league is so tough,” Head Coach Michelyne Pinard said. “I would say that has never been more true than this year because the depth of the league is so impressive. The team had a gutsy performance both Saturday and Sunday to pull out this result. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Prior to facing Bowdoin, the women dispatched Wesleyan 2-1 in the NESCAC semifinal on Saturday. Wesleyan got on the board first, sending a shot into the top of the net at 18:54 to take a 1-0 lead. However, an obstruction call  made after Alison Magruder ’15 was knocked down gave the women an indirect kick. Samantha Vilaboa ’13 stepped up for the Ephs, depositing the ball in the lower left corner of the net to tie the game 1-1 at 39:34.

The game was knotted at 1-1 until the 80th minute. Costa crossed the ball into the box to the far left post just past Carla Nicasio ’14 and rookie Hannah Levin ’16 pushed it into the corner of the net, breaking the tie and giving the women a 2-1 advantage. Wesleyan had two more shots to close out the game, but neither found the back of the net and Williams walked away with a 2-1 win. The victory advanced the women to the NESCAC final against Bowdoin.

With Sunday’s victory over Bowdoin, the women have earned the NESCAC’s automatic bid to Div. III Nationals. The women will face Farmingdale State at Wheaton on Saturday. The game will begin at 1:30 p.m. If Williams dispatches Farmingdale State on Saturday, the team will next play the winner of Saturday’s Westfield-Wheaton game on Sunday at 1 p.m.

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