Women’s Soccer Picks Up Road Win, Loses at Home
The past week signaled that the end is near for the Cardinals soccer team. As the days shorten and get colder, the women’s soccer schedule is heating up. With only a week left in the regular season, each game is more crucial than the last for a team hoping to mount some momentum going into Homecoming Weekend. Coming into the week with a 4-5-1 overall record and a 2-5-1 conference record, the Redbirds looked to generate some offense on the road at Roger Williams and continue their attack at home in a conference battle against Conn College. The contests yielded mixed results for a Cardinal squad that has had lapses in performance and team identity throughout the season.
The Cardinals’ first challenge of the week came in the form of Roger Williams College. The Wes squad traveled to Bristol, RI for the nonconference game against a tough squad that would surely simulate the rigors of the Cards’ NESCAC schedule. After carefully picking attempts for much of the first half of the match, the Cardinals were able to break through and generate results in the 37th minute of play.
Roger Williams, like so many other teams, fell victim to the brilliance of Wes set pieces, specifically junior Kerry Doyle’s corner kick. Setting up from the left side, Doyle curled a ball to the near side where Kaylie Williams ’16 picked a spot, but only rattled the crossbar. Luckily for the Cardinals, midfielder Beth Alexion ’16 displayed crucial off-ball awareness. She was able to beat the defense and clean up the rebound for her third goal of the campaign. Williams’ work did not go unappreciated, as she was credited for the assist along with Doyle.
The Cardinals were able to tack on some insurance 20 minutes into the second half of the match. A through-ball from quad-captain Laura Kurash ’13 found the feet of Katy Hardt ’15, who made the most of the beautiful pass by placing it past the keeper. The marker in the 62nd minute was Hardt’s first career goal and was all the Cards needed to definitively put away Roger Williams for the second year in a row. With a second left in regulation, the RW squad was awarded a hotly contested penalty kick that keeper Jes Tollman ’15 wasn’t able to handle, undoing a combined clean-sheet effort. Despite that, starting keeper Rachel Hobert ’16 and Tollman combined to thwart the RW attack and deflect a barrage of shots as the home side outshot Wes, 24-9.
What should have been a solidifying victory for Wesleyan the following Tuesday provided nothing but heartbreak for the Red and Black. Conference rival and perennial NESCAC punching bag Conn College came to Jackson Field without a win over Wes since 2008. However, the Camels jolted the Wesleyan squad with a pair of goals a minute and a half apart in the first half en route to a shocking 3-1 loss for the Cardinals.
Already down two goals with barely 20 minutes played, Kurash and Doyle showed some veteran grit. The classic connection cut the Camels’ lead in half with Doyle earning the assist and Kurash getting her seventh marker of the season. Despite putting up a roaring fight, the Cards couldn’t manage to put another blast on net. Instead, a cannon -of-a-shot crashed the Cardinal net to solidify the victory for the road squad in the 51st minute of play.
The weekend results left the Cardinals reeling with a 5-6-1 overall record and a 2-6-0 NESCAC mark. With only NESCAC games left to play, the Cardinals finish with a 3-0-1 undefeated mark against nonconference opponents. However, in the contests that count toward playoff contention, the Cardinals have not been nearly as hot. The loss against Conn now has the team in an interesting position. With two remaining games against Amherst and Trinity, the Redbirds need at least one victory to stake a claim for a playoff spot. With the Amherst game falling on Homecoming Weekend, the Cardinals look to kill two birds with one stone: earn a playoff spot and nab a victory in Little Three play. The Cardinals have had issues conceding early goals and automatically pigeonholing themselves at the beginning of games. To be successful against such high-caliber NESCAC teams, the Cards will need to play focused, disciplined soccer. Although the Cardinals were outshot at Roger Williams, they still came away with the win. This is a team that carefully chooses opportunities on goal, and the Cards will need to stay focused and ready to exploit every opportunity this weekend against Amherst College.