Women’s soccer stymies Conn. College

Audrey Thomas ’17 produced two shots and one assist in the Ephs’ game against Conn. College on Saturday.
Audrey Thomas ’17 produced two shots and one assist in the Ephs’ game against Conn. College on Saturday.

Last weekend, women’s soccer (9-0, 7-0 in the NESCAC) continued its undefeated streak, downing Conn. College 2-0.
Saturday saw the Ephs line up for their fourth game in eight days. Williams’ showdown with reigning NESCAC champions, Conn. College, was not a game that any of the women were going to take lightly. Having felt heartbreak at the hands of the Camels in the NESCAC Championship last year, the Ephs were determined to prevent a repeat of that performance. With the first career goal of Jacqueline Simeone ’18, combined with the first goal from Crystal Lewin ’16 in two years, the Ephs sent the Camels back to New London, Conn., with little reward for their admirable efforts.
The cagey affair required the better part of a quarter of an hour before either side generated a real chance, as Kristi Kirshe ’17 smashed a shot off the Camels’ goalkeeper just after the 16:00 mark. Kirshe picked up the ball in midfield and had a go at the Camel backline, running past several defenders before rifling a left-footed effort across the face of goal that connected squarely with the woodwork.
In the 32nd minute, the Camels managed to create a decent chance for Lauren Steele in the Eph penalty area. Mackenzie Kingston floated the ball into the box from a free kick on the left side, which Steele rose over several Eph defenders to meet, but her header traveled well wide of the target when all was said and done.
Just over six minutes before the halftime break, the Ephs won a foul in the heart of midfield, pushing several people forward into the box for the ensuing delivery. Simeone took the free kick, attempting to pick out one of the runners in the box; it looked to fly too near Camel backup goalkeeper, Alex Santiago, as she seemed poised to snag the ball out of midair. However, the ball managed to elude her grasp and somehow found its way into the back of the net, giving the Ephs a 1-0 lead.
Six minutes after the start of the second half, Audrey Thomas ’17 had a chance to bag a goal but Santiago was there to atone for her earlier mistake. Kirshe made another probing run at the Camel back line, drawing out several defenders, allowing her to feed Thomas through on the right side for her to have a crack at goal from an angle that Santiago always had covered.
The Camels almost reaped their reward from their outstanding defensive play when they had their best chance to equalize in the 66th minute. The Ephs conceded a foul just 30 yards from goal, which allowed Alex Bukovac a good look at goal, but Eph keeper Tressa Palcheck ’17 was over quickly to her near post to save the free kick.
With just a little time left in the second half, Lewin put the game to bed with her first goal since 2013. She collected an attempted Camel clearance and immediately fed the ball to Thomas. Thomas then fed the ball back to Lewin, who launched a gorgeous dipping effort that nestled into the top-left corner of Santiago’s goal. The women held on to win 2-0.
Last Wednesday the women faced off against Springfield. The Ephs saw goals from Kirshe and Katie Wardlaw ’17 as well as a resolute all-around defensive performance for a 2-0 win.
In spite of the two-goal advantage the Ephs held at the end of the contest, they did not dominate the opening portion of the game, with the Pride turning in a better performance than the Ephs in the opening minutes.
Kirshe struck first, in the 25th minute, after Maddie Swarr ’17 put a ball right at Kirshe’s feet, allowing her to spin inside her defender and to curl a left-footed beauty into the corner and safely past the Pride goalkeeper.
After Kirshe’s goal in the first half, the Ephs had a chance to reinforce their lead before halftime through the ever-dangerous Hanna Kaeser ’18. Kaeser made one of her probing runs down the right, before cutting toward goal and attempting to pick out the run of Natalie Turner-Wyatt ’19 in the center of the box. The Pride, though, snuffed out the chance.
The Pride may have taken refuge at halftime in the fact that its deficit was just the single goal, but Wardlaw took little time before notching her first goal of the season to extend the Ephs’ lead to two, less than four minutes after the restart off of a pass from Thomas.
Just before the hour mark, it looked like Thomas would add her name to the score sheet too, but Pride defender, Bri Messier, had other ideas. Evan Gancedo ’18 applied pressure to the left side of the Pride defense before whipping in a cross towards Thomas in the box. With the Pride goalie out of position, the oppurtunity was available, but Messier did a spectacular job putting her body on the line to deny Thomas anything more than just a sniff at goal, blocking her point-blank shot away from danger. The game ended in a 2-0 victory for the Ephs.
“It felt great to beat Conn. [College], who beat us in the NESCAC Championship last year in penalty kicks,” tri-captain Mai Mitsuyama ’16 said. “They made it difficult for us but what stood our for me was that we didn’t let their play dictate ours. They were a little chippy and man-marked a few of us and we could have easily gotten frustrated with the way they were playing but we didn’t retaliate. Instead we problem solved and adjusted extremely well.”
The women now have a well-earned break before their clash with RPI this Saturday in Troy, N.Y. On Sunday, the women will host MIT at 12:30 p.m.

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