Ephs storm past foes in Div. III tournament

Alison Magruder ’15 scored in the 3-0 win over Keene State. - Photo Courtesy of Sports Information
Alison Magruder ’15 scored in the 3-0 win over Keene State. – Photo Courtesy of Sports Information

Women’s soccer (14-3-2 overall, 7-2-1 in the NESCAC) advanced to the Div. III NCAA Sweet 16 this weekend following wins over Lesley and Keene State. Williams hosted the regional playoffs, which also featured Haverford. The women defeated Lesley 5-1 on Saturday and Keene State 3-0 on Sunday to earn the right to face Johns Hopkins this weekend.

On Saturday, the women downed Lesley 5-1. After only 30 seconds, tri-captain Carla Nicasio ’14 put the women up 1-0. She drove into the box and what originally looked like a cross found the right corner of the goal to give the Ephs an early lead. The onslaught continued in the 13th minute, when Maddie Swarr ’17 found Kristi Kirshe ’17, who beat two defenders and the goalkeeper to make the score 2-0.

Lesley did not give up and was awarded a free kick with 21:42 left to play. The ball was sent into the box, but the resulting header was saved easily by netminder Hannah Van Wetter ’15. Alison Magruder ’15 gave the women a three-goal lead in the 27th minute after a beautiful curling shot form the top of the 18. Two minutes later, Magruder made the score 4-0 after she beat her marker with a lovely piece of skill and curled the ball over the keeper’s head and into the back of goal.

The Ephs put in goalkeeper Tressa Palcheck ’17 to start the second half. She was forced into early action after a long-range shot from the Lynx. Lesley finally got on the scoreboard in the 51st minute when a cross was not cleared properly and Alexis Giusti tapped the ball into the net to grab a goal back.

In the 74th minute, the women were awarded a penalty kick after a handball in the box. Hana Tomozawa ’15 stepped up, and although the Lynx keeper guessed correctly, her shot was too powerful and too accurate to be stopped. Her goal made the score 5-1. Despite a furious effort from Lesley to get another goal, Palcheck made a series of fine saves to preserve the women’s lead, and the game ended with neither team adding to their tallies.

Just over seven minutes into the game against Keene State on Sunday afternoon, Nicasio opened scoring. Alex McInturf ’15 passed the ball to Nicasio, whose first touch took her around her marker. One-on-one with the Owls’ keeper, Victoria Crenson, Nicasio made no mistake in side-footing the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.

Keene State could only muster a few attacking opportunities in the first half, as Williams had the majority of the possession and created chance after chance. In the 33rd minute, Magruder ran onto a through ball and headed up the sideline. Her cross looked menacing, but Crenson plucked the ball out of the air before any Ephs could latch onto it. A mere five minutes later, Magruder doubled the Ephs’ lead. Lilly Wellenbach ’15 hacked the ball upfield, and it deflected off an Owl defender. The ball found its way to Magruder’s feet, and despite pressure from a retreating defender, she took the ball around the keeper and coolly finished it to make the score 2-0 at 37:50.

After halftime, the Owls looked hungry for a goal. They had a free kick in the 49th minute that was put into the box, but the ensuing header went wide of the goalpost. The Ephs rode out the pressure, and in the 55th minute, Nicasio sent a cross into the box from the left wing. Audrey Thomas ’17 ran onto it and chipped the ball into the back of the net, making the score 3-0. Minutes later, Keene State had its best chance of the game when one of its strikers beat two defenders and had a clean look on goal. However, Van Wetter made an excellent save to keep her clean sheet. Neither team found a goal before time expired, and the Ephs advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 3-0 win.

“Everybody is working so hard off the ball that we have lots of attacking options, and it’s resulting in a lot of scoring opportunities,” Head Coach Michelyne Pinard said. “Scoring goals in soccer isn’t easy, so anytime we score eight goals in a weekend, we are thrilled. We are continuing to work on executing in the important moments in front of both goals.”

This Saturday at 11 a.m., the women will play Johns Hopkins at Middlebury in the Sweet 16.

“We’ve never played [Johns Hopkins] in my tenure, and I believe before that, so I’m excited to see a very good team who knows nothing about us,” Pinard said. “It will be a great test, and the type of game that our players have been training for all year.”

At the conclusion of the Div. III NCAA tournament, the women will graduate three seniors.