Women’s soccer stymies Wesleyan 3-1

Audrey Thomas ’17 assisted the women’s third goal against Wesleyan and scored the women’s lone goal against Hamilton. - Photo Courtesy of Sports Information
Audrey Thomas ’17 assisted the women’s third goal against Wesleyan and scored the women’s lone goal against Hamilton. – Photo Courtesy of Sports Information

Last week, women’s soccer (11-2-2, 7-2-1 in the NESCAC) won two games. On Oct. 29, Williams defeated Hamilton 1-0 in the last game of the regular season and on Saturday, the women went up against Wesleyan in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC tournament, defeating their Little Three rivals by a decisive 3-1 margin.

In the game against Wesleyan last Saturday, the Ephs’ offense came out firing on all cylinders, scoring two goals inside the first four minutes. The first goal came just inside two minutes from co-captain Carla Nicasio ’14, who had a wonderful shot from the left side of the field. Nicasio found herself with enough space to get off what might have initially been a cross, but her left-footed swinger managed to elude the hands of the leaping Cardinal goalkeeper Jessica Tollman and notched in the right corner of the net to open the scoring for the Ephs.

The women experienced no let-down after their incredible start, and they doubled their lead under two minutes later, when Crystal Lewin ’16 tallied a goal of her own. The always-dangerous Lewin was lurking around the penalty area when Nicasio rocketed a shot toward goal that deflected off a defender. The ball fell fortuitously to Lewin, who made no mistake knocking the ball past Tollman, who was out of position because of the deflection. Lewin’s goal gave the women a 2-0 advantage at 3:56.

Despite the challenging start, the Cardinals did not give up and created a few opportunities of their own. They had four shots in the half, but only put one on target and did not trouble goalkeeper Hannah Van Wetter ’15.

The half ended with the score still at 2-0 in favor of the Ephs. As the second half began, Wesleyan looked more threatening offensively. They controlled possession and kept the ball in Williams’ defensive third. In the 75th minute, they eventually found the back of the net. The goal came as a result of a mass of chaos right in front of the Ephs’ goal. Cardinal striker Isabel Clements gained control of the ball and finished past Van Wetter to give the Cardinals hope in the dying minutes by cutting the deficit to 2-1.

A magnificent defensive effort by the women ensured that Wesleyan had no real chance to equalize. With just over two minutes left, the Ephs added a third goal to put the game out of the Cardinals’ reach and secure the victory. On the play, Audrey Thomas ’17 took a free kick in the midfield. Thomas floated her ball into the box right to the feet of Katie Wardlaw ’17, whose ensuing shot was parried nicely by netminder Tollman. However, once again the deflection fell to the feet of an Eph, this time Kristi Kirsche ’17, who finished past Tollman and ensured the Ephs’ place in the NESCAC semifinals.

“We did a really good job of scoring early, which made it easier to relax and play our game rather than needing to get a goal later on,” tri-captain Abby Conyers ’14 said. “It was our last game on Cole Field, and we came out with the fire that we needed and hopefully that continues as we head farther into the playoffs.”

Williams outshot Wesleyan by a margin of 17 to 11, with seven shots on goal to Wesleyan’s five. Van Wetter and Tollman both made four saves on the day, and both teams earned three corners apiece.

In the women’s final regular season game against Hamilton on Oct. 29, they had to grind out a difficult 1-0 win, where scoring opportunities were hard to come by against a strong, well-organized Hamilton defense.

The lone goal of the game came late in the second half after some truly remarkable passing between the Ephs’ attacking players. Wardlaw came out of the exchange of passes with the ball on the right side of the penalty area and slid another beautiful pass to the far post, where Thomas was waiting to put the Ephs in front. Thomas’s score at 76:16 gave the women the 1-0 edge they needed. After the goal, the Ephs’ backline locked down and protected Van Wetter from having to make any difficult saves in the waning moments of the match.

The Ephs outshot the Continentals by a margin of 18 to seven, with seven shots on goal to the Continentals’ five. Van Wetter made five saves in the game.

The women travel to Middlebury on Saturday to take on fourth-seeded Trinity in the NESCAC semifinals. The game kicks off at 1:30 p.m. If the women win on Saturday, they will face the winner of the other semifinal between Middlebury and Tufts on Sunday.