Field hockey (1-4, 0-3 in the NESCAC) was bested 4-0 by foe Amherst last Saturday in the women’s home opener. The Ephs had several quality scoring opportunities, but failed to convert. The Jeffs became more confident and began to dominate the game as their lead grew and time wound down. On Sept. 18, the women earned their first victory of the season, dominating Union 4-0.
On Saturday the women were tested from the onset of play. The Williams defense, bolstered by Katie Gallop ’17 and Jaclyn Porfilio ’15, repelled an early Amherst attack and transitioned the ball up the field where the offense could take its turn. Despite a promising push forcing Amherst goalie Rachel Tannenbaum into a beautiful diving save, the offense was unable to score.
The Jeffs then turned the tides quickly as Krista Zsitvay drove through the Ephs’ defense and beat netminder Nina Kumar ’16 on an unassisted goal at the 14:01 mark of the first half to open the scoring.
The Ephs maintained their pressure, however, as Annie VanWagenen ’16 ripped a shot wide in an attempt to knot the score at one in the 19th minute. The women earned two penalty corners that led to scoring chances. However, the half wore on with neither side garnering a distinct advantage until a yellow card at 30:29 gave Amherst a man-up advantage that they converted on. The pressure resulting from the man-up time gave the Jeffs a penalty stroke that Zsitvay did not waste, burying her shot over the outstretched arms of Kumar into the top left corner of the goal to bring the Amherst lead to 2-0 before the half ended.
Looking to rebound in the second half, the Ephs’ play improved, as they gained a man advantage less than one minute into the half. For the next 10 minutes, Williams maintained control in its offensive end and created several distinct scoring opportunities including a nice drive by co-captain Emily Jablonski ’14 that resulted in both a shot and a penalty corner. In this span, the women had five shots and three penalty corners but could not capitalize on the opportunities they created.
As the Amherst defense stepped up and transitioned the ball downfield, they once again took advantage of a penalty corner opportunity and moved the ball with speed and precision as Ellie Andersen scored on a pass from Alex Phille to take a 3-0 lead.
With a three-goal advantage, the Jeffs relaxed and controlled the tempo of the game via strong possession passing. Co-captain Ariana Spiliotes ’14 replaced Kumar in goal, and while the women kept up their intensity, Amherst kept possession in its offensive end and out of harm’s way. Zsitvay capped her impressive day with her third goal. She completed her hat trick at 61:41 with a powerful shot into the lower left corner. Amherst’s Ellie Andersen provided the assist to essentially put the game out of reach at 4-0.
On the day, Williams took 11 shots, while Amherst took 14. The Jeffs also had 11 shots on target while the Ephs only managed four. Both teams had roughly equal numbers of penalty corners, with Williams having eight and Amherst having nine.
“Obviously every loss hurts, but the Amherst game means just a little bit more,” Jablonski said. “The worst part is that we didn’t feel totally outplayed. Amherst made a few mistakes, and we did, too. The difference was that they capitalized on some goal scoring opportunities better than we did. They highlighted our weaknesses, which was good because now we know exactly what we need to fix and work on. But it felt more evenly matched than the score indicates. We would love the chance to see them again in the NESCAC tournament.”
The women also played on Sept. 18, earning their first win of the season by beating Union in a 4-0 shutout. Thanks in part to a hat trick from Caitlin Conlon ’15 and a seven-save shutout from Kumar, the Ephs dominated play from start to finish.
Just over a minute into the game, Conlon put the Ephs on the board with an unassisted goal. The women maintained their offensive pressure throughout the first half, but could not capitalize on the chances they created. At the break, the score was still 1-0.
Union started the second half strongly, earning two penalty corners. However, the Ephs defense held strong and did not let the Dutchmen convert. At 55:26, Conlon struck again, this time from close range to double the Ephs’ lead.
The women maintained their offensive pressure, and seven minutes later, Cary Hairfield ’15 added a goal. Conlon completed her hat trick a few minutes later with a hard, low shot from the left goalpost to bring the women’s lead to 4-0, which was how the game would finish.
Overall, Williams outshot Union 20 to eight, with 12 on target to Union’s seven. The Ephs also had 11 penalty corners, while the Dutchmen had a mere four.
“Things finally started clicking for us in the Union game,” said Jablonski. “We started to see each other and connect much better. We were very proud of our passing and communication in that game. Caitlin [Conlon] pulled through big time with her hat trick, and [Hairfield’s] goal was awesome, too. Brigid Bruno ’17 suffered a pretty gruesome injury, but she played it off like a champ. It was an intense game.”
This weekend, the women host Conn. College on Saturday at noon before traveling north to Middlebury on Sunday to take on the Panthers at 1 p.m.