Women’s soccer (14-1-1, 9-1 in the NESCAC) defeated Hamilton 2-1 on Cole Field last Saturday in the first round of the NESCAC tournament.
The first Eph goal on Saturday came only eleven minutes into the contest, when Kristi Kirshe ’17 took advantage of a blocked shot by Kristina Alvarado ’19. This brought the score to 1-0 in favor of the Ephs.
Williams continued to attack, working the ball up the field to create more and more scoring opportunities. The Ephs also exploited the right side of the Continental defense to create an opportunity for Alvarado. Kirshe found Natalie Turner-Wyatt ’19 on the left, who whipped in a quickly paced ball to the near post that Alvarado looped over the Hamilton goalie but could not quite get to dip back under the crossbar. The game went to the half with the Ephs up 1-0.
Just five minutes after the halftime restart, the Continentals finally produced the goal that drew them level at the time, as Becca Rees put a corner from the right into the center of the Eph penalty area, where a failed attempt at a clearance fell right to Victoria Freeman to volley sweetly past Eph keeper Tressa Palcheck ’17.
The long-awaited goal that would win the Ephs the game finally came when Kirshe drove at the now-weary Continental back-line and carved out a perfectly weighted pass to match the knifing run of Crystal Lewin ’16, who took one touch to control before caressing a left-footed effort into the top corner past the Continental goalie.
The Continentals had a golden opportunity to level the score with two minutes on the clock, but Katie Kreider’s header from eight yards left plenty to be desired as she sent it well over the bar, allowing the Eph faithful to breathe again.
With mere seconds remaining, the Continentals failed to create another chance to force extra time, and the Ephs secured an exhilarating quarterfinal win.
With the win, the women, top seed in the NESCAC tournament, will host the other three remaining NESCAC teams vying for the 2015 NESCAC Championship this weekend.
On Oct. 27, the women fell for the first time this season, losing to NESCAC rival Middlebury 2-0.
The Ephs took to Dragone Field to play out the fixture that ended 2-0 in their favor last season; however, the Panthers sent the Ephs away with a bitter taste in their mouths, reversing last year’s result with goals from Rebecca Palacios and Amanda Hotvedt in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Williams engineered the first chance for a goal 10 minutes after kickoff. Co-captain Mai Mitsuyama ’16 held off several challenges from Panther midfielders before finding Turner-Wyatt on the left side to cross an early ball into the center of the box. Alvarado beat her defender to it, but could only volley over the bar.
Eight minutes later, the Panthers began an onslaught of long-distance efforts at Palcheck’s goal, beginning with a dipping strike from Hannah Robinson that was a bit awkward for Palcheck, but she saved it nevertheless.
Another eight minutes went by before Jamie Soroka stood over a free kick from 30 yards out that she drilled straight on target, but Palcheck pushed the shot over the bar and out of danger.
Just over eight minutes from halftime, the Ephs managed their best chance of the half, orchestrated by Lewin, who played an intricate pair of passes with a fellow Eph before bombing down the right wing and sending a ball to the back post, meant for Natasha Albaneze ’18. Her header was deflected away from goal by a Panther defender, but the chance fell nicely to Madison Feeney ’19 to have a go at goal, requiring a crucial save from Reinmuth to keep the Ephs off the scoreboard. The game went to half deadlocked at 0-0.
Palcheck was called into action again ten minutes after the restart, as she had to be off her line quickly to prevent Soroka from catching up with a long ball over the top of the Eph defense.
A quarter of an hour later, Gabz Amos-Grosser ’17 pushed forward from her position on the backline and fed Albaneze through on the left side of the penalty area to roll a ball across the face of goal that Abby Morss ’16 only just missed out on redirecting into the back of Reinmuth’s net.
Robinson knocked on the door in the 77th minute when she smashed a 30-yard effort toward the top corner that needed a wonderful fingertips save from Palcheck to momentarily keep the Panthers off the scoresheet.
However, there was little Palcheck could do four minutes later, as Palacios bagged the opener for the Panthers, before Hotvedt added a second for good measure eight minutes after. The Panthers held out to win 2-0.
The women are elated to continue in the NESCAC tournament. “I was so proud of our team this weekend, not only for the result we got but how we worked for it,” co-captain Zoe Trutner ’16 said. “We really connected well on offense and I cannot wait to see what we can do against Middlebury with that same energy.”
The women look to avenge their only loss of the season in a rematch with Middlebury at home this Saturday in the NESCAC semifinal at 11 a.m.