Women’s soccer hits stride, still undefeated

Women’s soccer (7-0, 6-0 in the NESCAC) overpowered both Bates and Amherst last weekend to continue its undefeated 2015 campaign. The women took down Amherst 1-0 on Saturday and followed that up by defeating Bates 2-0 on Sunday.

Kristi Kirshe ’17 opened up the scoring against Bates on Sunday in the 12th minute, knifing through the Bobcat defense to run onto an incisive through ball from Crystal Lewin ’16. One-on-one with goalie Sarah McCarthy, Kirshe calmly used her left foot to place the ball in the back of the net off McCarthy’s right post.

Following the opening goal, the Bobcats struggled to work themselves into the game, with the Ephs dominating a vast majority of the possession. However, the Bobcats engineered their first chance of the game in the 21st minute through Hannah Behringer. Behringer fired a shot from 30 yards out toward the left corner, but Eph keeper, Tressa Palchek ’17 saw it all the way and was over to make the save.

Four minutes later, Audrey Thomas ’17 was inches away from doubling the Ephs’ tally. Lewin orchestrated the move, finding Thomas with a long ball over the top of the Bobcat defense. Thomas outpaced her defender to the ball, but her shot flashed just wide of McCarthy’s left post. The game went into halftime with the Ephs up 1-0.

Not much changed after the restart, with Lewin once again playing creator in the 53rd minute, pulling off a beautiful dummy to get past her defender and center an early ball for Thomas. Bobcat Sarah Gutch was alive to the danger, however, and stayed with Thomas the entire way, managing to get a foot in to block her shot away from McCarthy’s goal.

With just over 14 minutes left to play, Kirshe sealed the game with her second beautiful finish of the day. Evan Gancedo ’18 found Lewin on the left side of the Eph attack, who quickly picked out the feet of Kirshe. Kirshe turned and curled one into the net. The Ephs saw out the rest of the game to earn the 2-0 victory.

On Saturday, Williams defeated rival Amherst in a 1-0 contest.       Ten minutes into the game, the Ephs rose to the challenge, as Thomas netted her 10th goal of the season from the unlikeliest of circumstances. A beautiful, flowing move down the left wing started as Katie Wardlaw ’17 played a tidy one-two with Kirshe to create space enough to send a cross into the box. Deflecting off a defender, the ball ricocheted out to Kirshe, who floated a shot toward Holly Burwick’s goal that looked to be dipping under the crossbar until Burwick fingered it onto the woodwork. The chance was not gone for the Ephs, however, as the opportunistic Thomas was in the right place at the right time to head the rebound into the back of the net from close range.

The Jeffs only took five minutes to regroup and create a genuine opportunity to level the match from a corner. The cross in from the left was only half-cleared out of the danger zone, falling nicely for Megan Root to have a shot, but she dragged her effort just wide of the goal.

Just after the hour mark, Palcheck was called on to ensure the Ephs maintained their advantage. Amherst’s Megan Kim found herself one-on-one with the keeper after a cross-field pass, producing a wonderful save out of Palcheck.

With time winding down, the Ephs began to soak up more and more pressure as the Jeffs pushed forward on their quest to level the match. However, the Eph defense proved resolute. Lewin played Kirshe a pass that angled her run toward goal, but instead of taking the shot on herself, Kirshe laid the ball off for Thomas. Unfortunately, an Amherst player closed Thomas down.

As the full-time whistle loomed, the Jeffs desperately sought a goal that would give them new life in the form of extra time, but it was not to be, as the Eph defense once again proved to be impenetrable, and the women collectively recorded their third clean sheet of the 2015 campaign.

“Overall, I think it was a great weekend,” said co-captain Mai Mitsuyama ’16. “Having over 30 alums watch us beat Amherst on Cole Field was amazing, and we couldn’t have asked for a better atsmophere. I think we did a great job on Saturday in terms of being tough against such a physically demanding team and playing our way and letting the ball do the work.”

The women will take on Springfield at home on Cole Field at 4:15 pm today. On Saturday they host Conn. College at noon.

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