Williams College proved too strong for the Cardinals on Saturday as the Cards lost 3-1 in Williamstown. The Ephs, ranked 12th in the preseason NFHCA Division III poll, scored 18 minutes into the first half and never relinquished their lead. Hailey Sarage ’09 netted Wesleyan’s lone goal off of a great penalty stroke late in the second half.
Williams came out strong in the first half, keeping the ball in its offensive zone for most of the period. The first half statistics tell the story: Wesleyan goaltender Breen McDonald ’10 was forced to make seven saves on ten shots, while the Cards only managed one shot towards the Williams net.
“The reason why they were getting so many chances was because defensively we made a lot of little mistakes, such as not recovering fast and keeping our heads up for uncovered players,” said Co-captain Tori Whitney ’08.
The Cards showed a clear lack of aggression on the offensive side of the field. While Williams consistently charged towards the net after a hard shot, putting a lot of pressure on the Cardinal defense, the Wesleyan forwards were often caught watching their teammates shoot and found themselves a step behind the Eph defense in getting to the rebounds.
“During the halftime break we talked about how we were playing not to lose instead of playing to win and our mindset when they got the loose balls was to play defense instead of being aggressive and offensive,” said forward co-captain Adrienne Shea ’08.
The Wesleyan offense did show more life after the break, upping its shots from one in the first half to six in the second half. The Cards also managed to earn double the number of penalty corners than the Ephs, but Williams goalie Bethany Baker was up to the task, successfully stopping all Cardinal advances. Williams appeared surprised by the rejuvenated Cardinal team in the second half, but the Ephs capitalized on a Cardinal defensive breakdown midway through the half to up their lead to two.
“There was definitely a point in the second half when we had them on their heels,” Shea added. “We were gaining momentum but unfortunately were unable to translate that to the scoreboard.”
Meighan McGowan ’10, who was NESCAC player of the year as a sophomore, led Williams’ offensive charge with eight shots. She finished the game with a goal and an assist.
“[McGowen] is definitely one of the fastest ball carriers we face,” said Molly O’Connell ’09. “She uses the sideline really well and is quick to capitalize on opportunities.”
“Williams was frustrating but it also highlighted a lot of things we need to work on as a team,” Shea said. “The great thing about Saturday was that it wasn’t for lack of effort or skill that we lost. Things just didn’t come together for us.”
The Cards travel to Hartford on Saturday to take on Trinity College. Last season, Wesleyan beat the Bantams 1-0 in a close match.