The Cardinals captured their first win of the season at Salve Regina on Tuesday, defeating the Seahawks 2-1. This win could not have come at a better time, after the team had dropped a disappointing loss to NESCAC foe Trinity 3-2 on Saturday.
The Cardinals came out flying Saturday, trapping the Bantams in their own end and dominating play for the first twenty minutes. With just under seven minutes into the game, Hailey Sarage ’09 scored the first goal through the Trinity keepers legs off of a beautiful cross from Amanda Nickels ’08. Keeping up the pressure, Wesleyan was able to score again sixteen minutes later on a penalty corner. Sarage started the play by sending the ball out to Allie Lynch ’11, who fired a direct shot on net that Adrienne Shea ’08 was able to tip past the keeper, upping the Cardinal lead to two. With an early and commanding lead, the Cardinals seemed poised for their first big win of the season. Unfortunately, the momentum shifted. Trinity responded with three straight unanswered goals, handing the Cardinals their second loss of the season.
“We seemed to get complacent after we got ahead,” Shea said. “We were the better team out there, but Trinity never stopped working hard for every loose ball.”
The lesson was not lost on the Cards.
“We actually met a lot of our game goals but were unable to convert them to a win,” said Tory Whitney ’08. “We all knew how well we were playing in the Trinity game but learned that you can’t take a lead for granted.”
On Tuesday, Wesleyan traveled to Newport, Rhode Island to face Salve Regina for the first time ever. The normally fast-paced Cards had to adjust to a grass field that slowed them down..
“We really had to change from our usual quick-passing game to a much more run-and-hit style of play,” said Molly O’Connel ’09. “I think we really adjusted well and in the end had the advantage since we were a faster team, and the score reflects that.”
Despite out-shooting the Seahawks 9-5 in the first half, the game remained scoreless with 35 minutes left. Alexa David ’10 started things off with less than two minutes into the half.
“We were pretty much dominating the first half, so it was time to convert,” David said. “Right at the whistle we strung together some great passes to get the ball up the field and earned a corner,” said David. “It was an all-around team effort.”
As the Salve goalie attempted to clear the ball from the corner, David was too quick in reading the play and intercepted the clear, firing a second shot that found the back of the net. Wesleyan controlled most of the rest of the half, continuing to outshoot them with a 13-8 shot differential.
Salve did have some quality opportunities that were turned away by standout netminder Breen McDonald ’10. Shea solidified the lead in what would be the game winner off of an assist from Alex Bean ’11 with seven minutes left to play. Unfortunately, McDonald’s shutout bid was spoiled with only five seconds left to play as the Seahawks scored off of a penalty stroke.
This Sunday, Wesleyan will face perennial powerhouse Middlebury College, who ended the Cardinal’s season last year in the first round of the NESCAC tournament. Middlebury finished second in the tournament last year, losing narrowly to Bowdoin 1-0 in the finals, and is currently 3-1 (1-1 NESCAC).
“They are definitely a beatable team,” Whitney said. “The conference this year is completely undecided and since Wednesday’s practice we have really been focusing on what we need for a big win this weekend. It is really exciting to play them because these past two years we have had really close games.”