Weekend Homestand Yields Mixed Results for Women’s Soccer
After opening the season with two matches on the road, the Wesleyan women’s soccer team found reprieve at Jackson Field this weekend, where the Cardinals picked up the season’s first victory against Tufts University.
Entering Saturday’s contest, the Cardinal squad was still without a single goal this season. Despite a staunch defensive presence in games against Bowdoin and Eastern Connecticut State, the Cardinals were not able to match that level of production on offense. The task of netting the season’s first score remained difficult in Saturday’s contest, with a bitter Tufts unit looking to exact revenge after bowing out to Wesleyan in NESCAC tournament play last year.
The sequel to last season’s playoff battle did not disappoint. Through the first half of play, the home squad refused to yield to each Jumbo attempt at goal. The match was taking form as yet another signature defensive battle for the Cardinals until the team finally struck gold in the 42 minutes ino the game. Laura Kurash ’13 ended the goalless drought with what would be the game-winning score on a swooping corner kick landing in an overcrowded Tufts penalty area.
Quad-captain Kurash’s 29th career goal was just enough for goalkeeper Jess Tollman ’15 to work with in order to make eight saves, which secured her first shutout of the season. Tollman’s fourth career shutout brought down her goals-against average to a microscopic 0.40, a testament to the strength of a near impenetrable Cardinal defense. The Redbirds’ victory marks the first regular season triumph over conference rivals Tufts since a 1-0 result almost seven years ago.
Hoping to use momentum from the victory against Tufts, the Cardinals welcomed the Hamilton Continentals just a day after the home opener. The Sunday afternoon contest was only the second between these two relatively new NESCAC contenders and the first one in Middletown. Looking to improve upon a 3-1 loss in Clinton, N.Y., in 2011, the Cardinals locked up with the Continentals in a battle that was too potent for regular time to handle.
After two scoreless and staunchly contested periods of play, underscored by excellent keeper play on both ends of the field, the Cardinal squad was in an all-too-familiar position. Despite getting nine shots off, including a brilliantly-placed attempt by forward Isabel Clements ’16, the Cardinals were unable to generate the same goal-scoring form from the day before. As the scoreboard counted less than thirty seconds of play left in the first overtime period, the Hamilton squad was able to pull through and capitalize on a fatigued Wesleyan side.
In a fashion reminiscent of the previous day’s goal, Hamilton was able to capitalize on a corner kick to net the game-winning score for the visiting side. With that goal, Hamilton maintained its pristine 3-0 conference record and now sit atop the NESCAC standings, while the Cardinals fall below .500 in conference play. The overtime goal brought an end to an impressive 295-minute goalless stretch for Cardinal keeper Tollman that spanned across all four contests of the season.
With the loss, the Cardinals sit at an overall record of 1-1-2 on the season and hope to end their current homestand against Salve Regina this Wednesday, Sept. 19 with a victory.