The Cardinals picked up their first NESCAC win of the season this Saturday at Connecticut College by a score of 2-0. The victory improves the Cardinals’ record to 2-4 (1-3 NESCAC). Amanda Nickels ’08 had a big day for Wesleyan, notching both goals, while goalkeeper Breen McDonald ’10 recorded her second career shutout.
Hailey Sarage ’09 set up the first goal just over four minutes into the game. Controlling the ball in the offensive corner, she sent the ball to the center. The Conn. goalie came out to play the ball, but Adrienne Shea ’08 artfully tipped the pass to Nickels, who made her first goal of the contest. The Camels held the majority of possession for the rest of the first half, but were unable to convert the possession into a goal.
Wesleyan goaltending proved instrumental to the team’s victory as the Camels out-shot the Cardinals 8-4. With her first shutout of the year, McDonald improved her save percentage to 78.38 percent, which places her fourth in the conference.
“I was happier to have won the game than to have gotten the shut-out but it was definitely an excellent reward,” McDonald said. “Our defense is playing stronger—we’re more aggressive, focused, and are working…together really effectively.”
Co-captain Tori Whitney ’08 concurred with McDonald’s assessment of the defense.
“The defense came out very aggressive on the corners,” Whitney said. “We spent time in practice going over better positioning for corners and picked apart our old strategies to find out what worked and didn’t work. We also were very vocal during the corners and I think Conn. felt a lot of pressure.”
The Cards not only defended corners well, but they were also able to capitalize on one of their own. Just over five minutes into the second half, Nickels hit a corner to the center of the circle where Maddie Rottman ’08 tipped it back to Nickels at the post. Nickels fired the ball into the back of the net, scoring her second of the day.
The second half provided more even play as both teams fought for possession, earning only two shots and two penalty corners each.
“Amanda had an amazing game on Saturday,” Shea said. “She’s had three goals in the last three games on tip balls—she is consistently on her post and has a great stick, allowing her to finish on balls.”
Nickels, who scored her first goal of the season in their last game against Wheaton, seems to have found her stride, as she has been able to pick her spots and get quality shots. Sarage was the only other Cardinal to get a shot on net in the game.
“I think that this was a great win for our team, as well as a confidence-booster in terms of turning our season around and playing to our potential,” McDonald said. “It also was really great for everyone to see their hard work in practice turn into a positive result.”
Wesleyan will play non-conference opponent Mt. Holyoke College at home this Tuesday at Smith Field. The Lyons are currently 4-3, but lost their only game against a NESCAC team 5-0 to Amherst College. Last year Wesleyan beat the Lyons 3-2 in overtime.