Ephs race out to 3-0 undefeated start

September 14, 2016 by Scott Shelton, Staff Writer

After its season-opening win at Hamilton, women’s soccer (3-0, 2-0 in the NESCAC) extended its opening win streak with its home-openers against Trinity on Saturday and Skidmore on Sunday.

Sunday’s contest marked the end of a grueling start to the 2016 season that required the women to play three games in five days. The women emerged victorious at 2-1 on Saturday in overtime and 2-0 on Sunday.

“It was great to play on Cole Field after a long off-season, and I was pleased with how our team grew throughout the game,” Head Coach Michelyne Pinard said. “We’re only a little over a week into the season so there is a lot for us to work through, especially with so many injuries to older, more experienced players. Thankfully, many younger players arrived ready to go and have had a chance to impact our team.”

Saturday’s game was the Ephs’ second NESCAC contest of the 2016 season. Since 1995, Trinity had only defeated Williams once in 22 games since 1995. Trinity took a lead with just over 20 minutes remaining in regulation only to see its lead turned on its head thanks to two goals from the Ephs. The first goal came from Sarah Scire ’20 with 12 minutes remaining, and the game-winner came from Natalie Turner-Wyatt ’19 fewer than three minutes after the start of overtime.

The Bantams opened the scoring at 68:00 after a strong spell of possession by the Ephs. The Ephs responded just a few minutes later at 76:00 when Kristi Kirshe ’17, so often the focal point of the Eph attack, initiated a move with one of her trademark runs through midfield. After attracting defenders to her, Kirshe passed the ball to Natasha Albaneze ’18 on the edge of the penalty area. Albaneze flicked the ball toward Scire, who worked the ball out from under her feet and fired a shot that crossed the line despite a temporary intervention by a Bantam shot-stopper.

The Ephs, buoyed by their equalizer, relentlessly threw numbers forward in attack and reaped their reward in the very early stages of overtime.

Sarah Kelly ’20 bombed forward down the right flank and knocked a pass towards the back post. The ball, seemingly over everyone’s head, was captured by Turner-Wyatt as she arrived just in time to catch the Bantams out of position and punch the winner.

With a collective one goal and one assist, the first-years were a vital component to the Ephs’ narrow margin of victory. Although Trinity opened the day’s scoring, Williams may have led 2-0 if not for two goals ruled out for offside. The first of those two came just after the second-half restart at 48:00. Kelly passed the ball to Nkem Iregbulem ’20, who would have scored her first goal as an Eph if not for the offside call.

The second goal declared offsides came when Kirshe averted the Bantam defense with a perfectly weighted through ball for Alison Lu ’20, who slotted it past the Bantams.

Sunday’s contest was less of a close competition as Williams kept Skidmore scoreless for the entirety of the game. Capitalizing on one of the team’s first scoring opportunities, Lu found the back of the net for the third time in three games. That goal, combined with a goal by Iregbulem in minute 82:00, was the difference.

Lu reaped the rewards of a strong buildup down the right side of the Skidmore defense at 8:00. Albaneze worked the ball onto her left foot so she could pass the ball to Turner-Wyatt. Although the attempt at goal did not make it past the first defender, Lu captured the ball and rocketed a shot into the net.

Rather symmetrically, the only other goal of the game came eight minutes from the full-time whistle. Iregbulem, who had been looking dangerous up top all afternoon, finally made one of her chances count by barreling through the Thoroughbred defense before shooting low to the keeper’s right, giving the Ephs a two-goal lead that held until the end of the game. Although the Ephs’ dominated the scoreline, the margin of victory could have been much larger if not for the Thoroughbred goalie’s difficult saves throughout the match.

The women’s next competitions don’t come until the end of the week when they host their third NESCAC opponent of the season, Colby, on Saturday at 11 a.m. Last year, the Ephs defeated the Mules 8-0.

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