Bantams knock Ephs out of conference semis

Co-captain Audrey Thomas ’17 had three shots on goal in Saturday’s home game against Trinity. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.
Co-captain Audrey Thomas ’17 had three shots on goal in Saturday’s home game against Trinity. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

To kick off semifinal day on Cole Field in the NESCAC Women’s Soccer Championships, the Bantams of Trinity College visited the home of the Ephs (15–0–2, 9–0–2 in the NESCAC) and won in a penalty shootout.

Trinity goalkeeper Julia Pitino came up with three saves against Williams penalty takers to buoy her team to a 3–1 penalty shootout victory after the score was all-square at 1–1 after 110 minutes of soccer, keeping the Ephs from the NESCAC title game this season

In the 33rd minute, the Bantams’  Tricia Pollock opened the scoring. Tori Dunn collected an attempted clearance on the end line after Danielle Sim ’18 cut out a probing pass into the Ephs’ penalty area. The junior foraged into the box, and then squared the ball for Pollock in the center of the area, whose first time shot went right over the head of Eph goalkeeper Olivia Barnhill ’19, who could not react quickly enough to get her hands on the shot.

After the goal, the Ephs went on the hunt for an equalizer and almost found one with a little over a minute until the halftime whistle. Alison Lu ’20 shrugged off several challenges as she rampaged through the Bantam midfield. With options to both her right and left, she opted for Lauren Brown ’19, who then played Kristina Alvarado ’19 through on goal. With just Pitino left to beat, the forward tried to find the bottom corner, but the keeper smothered the shot.

On the other side of halftime, the Ephs found their equalizer in Kristi Kirshe ’17,who put in a free kick and in the process broke the Ephs’ all-time individual scoring record.

After co-captain Audrey Thomas ’17 was brought down on the edge of the penalty area by Alexa Barbaresi, who received a yellow card, the delivery teased the near post, where Sarah Sciré ’20 flicked a ball with her head to the opposite side of the box where Kirshe was waiting for the tap-in.

Neither side could produce another goal, even after the extra 20 minutes of overtime. At the end of the first period of overtime, Natalie Turner-Wyatt ’19 almost repeated her game-winning antics from the September encounter with the Bantams, as she rifled a shot toward the top-corner in the dying moments that just found the wrong side of Pitino’s bar by a hair.

In the second period of overtime, the Ephs had their best opportunity of the game to send themselves into the final, when a Bantam handled the ball in the box. The referee pointed to the spot, and Natasha Albaneze ’18 stepped up, but she could not convert from 12 yards.

In the final minute of overtime, the Bantams almost conjured a game-winner of their own to prevent the penalty shootout, but a combination of Barnhill and her crossbar prevented Pollock’s shot from bringing a cruel end to the game.

“The result  of the Trinity game was heartbreaking, especially given that we played quite well,” Head Coach Michelyne Pinard said. “We love playing on Cole, but at this point in the season, we are just happy to be playing. Only 64 teams in the country are able to say that and we don’t take that for granted. We’re thrilled to be playing, we’re thrilled to be on Cole Field and we’re looking to do whatever we can do to earn another day together. The result in the NESCAC semifinal allowed us to remember that this is a cruel game sometimes and we need to take care of the little things at both ends of the field, so that is our focus as we train to get ready for this weekend.”

After failing to advance to the finals, the Ephs technichally remain undefeated. On Saturday, the women will make their 18th appearance in the Div. III NCAA Tournament and will host Elms, Arcadia and the Wentworth Institute of Technology.