Women’s soccer nets four-goal opening weekend

Last weekend, women’s soccer (1-0-1, 1-0 in the NESCAC) played against Colby on Saturday and Wheaton (Mass.) on Sunday, coming away with a 2-1 win and a 2-2 draw, respectively.

In Sunday’s game, the second of the weekend, Williams had a rematch of last year’s Div. III NCAA second round game against Wheaton. Last year, Wheaton came away victorious, ending the women’s tournament run.

The Ephs’ revenge on the Lyons hit a bump in the road early, when Kaitlin Montoya opened up the scoring just under three minutes into the game. Montoya headed a beautiful cross from her teammate, Lauren Corigliano, on the right wing, leaving no chance for goalkeeper Tressa Palcheck ’17 to save it.

Montoya’s third goal of the season set the tone early on for Wheaton as its strong play continued. The Lyons scored again 14 minutes later, when Kristina Braga hit home the second goal of the game to give the Lyons a 2-0 lead.

However, the Ephs remained motivated despite the early challenges. In the last 15 minutes of the first half, the women’s offense finally caught fire as Kristi Kirshe ’17 had two chances on goal that were stopped by excellent saves from Wheaton keeper Taylor Wilson.

As the clock wound down toward halftime, it appeared the Ephs’ good play would go unrewarded. However, the Lyons conceded a free kick in midfield with only moments left in the first half, giving Lilly Wellenbach ’15 the chance to loft a ball into the penalty area where Alex McInturf ’15 was waiting with a clinical finish to net her first goal of the season and to cut the Ephs’ deficit to 2-1.

When the second half began, the women continued right where they left off at the end of the first. The Ephs’ pressure eventually broke the defense of the Lyons in the 63rd minute when Abby Morss ’16 crossed the ball from the left wing into the box, right into the path of the freshly substituted Katie Wardlaw ’17. Wardlaw skillfully chipped the keeper to equalize the game at 2-2 for the Ephs.

The women’s momentum did not stop there. The increased pressure caused Wheaton’s Garbiella Verde to pick up a yellow card of her own, only six minutes after the women’s goal. The Ephs outshot the Lyons 11-2 in the second half and had four corner kicks, but they had no more goals to show for it by the end of the 90 minutes.

As the game entered overtime, the Lyons seemed to recover the form they had displayed early on in the first half. Some fantastic back-and-forth play resulted in Verde having several chances in front of the Ephs’ goal, but no conversions for the Mules.

On the other end, both Crystal Lewin ’16 and Kirshe had great opportunities to score the game-winner, but they were turned away by spectacular saves from Wilson.

Although the game ended in a 2-2 draw, Head Coach Michelyne Pinard was pleased with the way her team played in the second half and overtime. “When they got those two goals, I was really proud of our fight and our ability to stay composed, stay resilient and just keep working,” Pinard said. “I thought our team did a great job the second 45 minutes and the overtime, and I think that’s going to be our standard from here on out – that’s the level at which we’re expecting ourselves to [play].”

On Saturday, the women started their season on the road against Colby, who was also their first NESCAC opponent. As in the game against Wheaton, the scoring started early. This time, it was the women’s offensive pressure that opened the scoring in the 10th minute against Colby, when Audrey Thomas ’17 found herself one-on-one with the Colby goalkeeper, Emily Brook, on a breakaway. Thomas made no mistake, finishing past Brook to give the Ephs an early 1-0 lead.

However, the goal did not keep the Mules down for long, as they found an equalizer late in the first half. Ruth Hawley neatly slid a ball into the Ephs’ penalty area where her teammate, Annie Papadellis, was waiting to slot the ball past Hannah Van Wetter ’15 to tie the game at one goal apiece.

As the second half began, the play looked even, with both teams having their fair share of looks at goal. The second half was a story of goalkeeping, as both Brook and second-half sub Palcheck came up with great saves. The Ephs had 19 shots during the game, including four apiece from Thomas and Alison Magruder ’15 and five from Kirshe.

In the 74th minute, the Ephs finally outmatched Brook’s impressive goalkeeping. Midfielder Mai Mitsuyama ’15 fed a through ball into the box to the waiting Wardlaw, who converted the game-winning goal to give the Ephs a decisive 2-1 lead.

“We knew [the rookies] would have an impact, and they certainly did right away,” Pinard said. “It’s so exciting to have everybody on the team capable of being dangerous, and I think that showed today – having two young players score. I hope it gives them confidence that they can do it again.”

Pinard was particularly proud of Wardlaw’s performance. “[Wardlaw] had as good of a weekend as a first-year player could have,” Pinard said. “She did score two big goals, but even more importantly, she competed incredibly hard and remained composed in the most intense of moments. She’s a real team player, and I’m glad she’s on our team.”

The women have two games this weekend: The women’s first game is on Saturday at 12 p.m. away against Trinity, and their second game will be at home against Oneonta State on Sunday at 12 p.m.