After implementing a new attacking system in the offseason to improve its use of flank space, women’s soccer (3–0, 2–0 in the NESCAC) opened its season with three convincing wins. In the season opener last Wednesday, the women defeated Hamilton 3-1 on Cole Field. They shut out Trinity 2-0 on Saturday and won 4-0 against Skidmore on Sunday.
In Sunday’s win over Skidmore, forwards Alison Lu ’20 and Sarah Scire ’20 each scored twice.
The first half contained plenty of passing and forward movement from each side, though scoring chances were few.
Skidmore attackers Emma Basso and Yasmine Bouakri put pressure on the Williams defense in the opening minutes. Victoria Laino ’21 was forced to make two strong tackles, and Liz Webber ’20 blocked a cross to avoid potential danger.
In the 36th minute, the Ephs found their breakthrough. Tri-captain Evan Gancedo ’18 took a pass from Sarah Hollinger ’19 at the edge of the box and found Scire all alone in front of the Skidmore goal. A composed finish from Scire made it a 1-0 game.
Scire had another opening just three minutes later when Mikayla Kappes ’21 played her through. However, Skidmore goalie Alyssa Rollins came off her line and smothered the ball after the attacker’s first touch.
In the 48th minute, the Ephs doubled their lead. Following a long punt from goalkeeper Olivia Barnhill ’19, Natasha Albaneze ’18 played a ball for Lu past the Skidmore defense. On the breakaway, Lu rounded the keeper and scored on the wide-open goal.
Lu found the net once more in the 65th minute. Albaneze played her through again, and Lu outraced the rushing goalkeeper to the ball. Her sliding effort knocked the ball into the net, as she tallied her third goal of the season.
Scire rounded out the scoring on a 68th-minute penalty kick. After Lauren Brown ’19 was knocked over in the box, Scire converted from the spot, matching Lu for the team scoring lead.
Head Coach Michelyne Pinard discussed her team’s offensive outburst. “We’ve been working hard at trying to get in behind other teams’ back fours,” she said. “We took chances to do that, and it played out well. It was also exciting that our conversion rate was high.”
Additionally, she wants the team to diversify its attack and be able to use its options all over the field. “Our goal is to see what space we’re given and use that,” she said. “As we get more confident in our system and our passing, we’ll be able to take advantage of that space.”
In a physical match on Saturday afternoon, the women prevailed 2-0 over Trinity. Both teams applied pressure to try to win the ball in their opponents’ half, but few scoring chances materialized in the first 45 minutes.
The Ephs saw their best chance of the half in the 17th minute. With Bantam goalkeeper Julia Pitino off her line, a corner kick delivery fell to Georgia Lord ’21 in the penalty area. Lord launched a shot at goal, but the ball took a deflection off of a Trinity defender, allowing Pitino to make the save. Throughout the half, Lord’s runs down the right flank caused trouble for Trinity backs.
The Bantams continued to press hard and were able to gain some extended spells of possession in the half. Despite stellar passing and movement, the Bantam attackers were unable to push deep into Eph territory, as defenders Webber, Katelyn Long ’19 and tri-captain Danielle Sim ’18 kept the ball from reaching dangerous areas.
The Ephs got off to a hot start in the second half. Just 3:43 into the period, Albaneze threaded a through ball to Lu, who scored with a superb chip over a rushing Pitino.
In the 70th minute, Erika Jung ’20 played Hanna Kaeser ’18 into space on the right wing. Kaeser dribbled between two defenders and sent a cross in, but Pitino reacted quickly.
Four minutes later, the ball broke nicely again for Jung, this time in the center of the field. She played Scire through to goal. A defender took Scire down from behind in the box, and the referee awarded a penalty kick for the Ephs. Gancedo stepped up and buried the spot kick to put the away side up by two.
“We found our stride at the beginning of the second half, and we really started to get in behind,” Pinard said. “We started playing at the pace at which we want to play.”
The Ephs made twice as many substitutions in the game as the Bantams, and rested players made a difference in the late stages of the game, Pinard said. “We’re bringing players in off the bench who on any given day could be starting,” she said. “Being able to maintain our level of play for 90 minutes is essential for us to win.”
In their season opener on Wednesday, the women defeated Hamilton 3-1 on a rain-soaked Cole Field.
Early on, the Ephs looked to control possession and utilize space on the wings, while the Continentals attempted to play their forwards in with long passes. Hamilton earned the lead in the 20th minute. Barnhill made a one-on-one save on Katja Dunlap, but the rebound fell to an unmarked Amanda Becker, who buried the ball into the net.
Ilana Albert ’21 hit the post on a shot and created several chances for the Ephs from the flank. Long sent in a free kick that nearly connected with a teammate, but Hamilton retained its lead until Jung scored the equalizer with 56 seconds left in the half. A powerful shot from 30 yards out sailed past the goalie’s fingertips.
Each team recorded three shots in the first half, and each had one corner kick. The rain was a major factor, as players from both teams struggled to keep their footing.
Both teams came out of the gate strong in the second half, but Gancedo put the Ephs up in the 53rd minute. After receiving a pass from Albert at the edge of the box, she chipped a shot over the goalie to make it 2-1.
In the midfield, Gancedo and Laino continued to win possession for Williams. Scire added to the Eph lead in the 69th minute. She won a free kick in the midfield, and after a Hamilton defender headed it away, Scire found the ball at her feet again. She slotted her shot to make it 3-1, and the women held their lead until the final whistle.
Three first-years have started games for the Ephs, and five have seen playing time early in the season. Pinard said she was pleased with the performance of the newest recruiting class. “What makes them special is that they’re complete soccer players,” she said. “They have the athleticism to cover a lot of ground, and they have the technical ability to play at this level.”
This Saturday, the women will travel to Waterville, Maine, for an 11 a.m. game against Colby.