In its home opener last Saturday, the women’s soccer team played 110 scoreless minutes against Babson College, which entered the contest 4-0, resulting in a 0-0 tie. Jessica Tollman ’15 played the whole game in her fifth career shutout. The match was Tollman’s season debut after returning from an injury, which kept her out of the Cardinals’ first game at Bowdoin College on Sept. 7. Wes now stands 0-1-1 and is still seeking its first win of 2013.
Captain Kerry Doyle ’14 anchored the team’s impressive defensive effort against a dangerous Babson team that had won each of its first four games by at least three goals. When asked about the team’s approach to playing such a potent offense, Doyle said that the Cards’ game plan going into the matchup wasn’t different than any other game.
“We really tried not to harp so much on what Babson had done,” she said. “We wanted to go in playing our own game. Obviously, I had looked into their results so far and had noticed [their performance], but we didn’t go in any differently. [Captain] Brynn [Hansson ’15] and I always expect shutouts from ourselves.”
After a couple of unsuccessful Babson shots in the first half, the Cardinal defense stepped up and didn’t allow any more serious scoring opportunities. Tollman made a couple of nice plays in the first half, including a save 14 minutes into the game.
The game’s best scoring chance came about four minutes into the first overtime, when Wesleyan forward Sarah Sylla ’17 popped a shot from the left side of the box over the Babson goalkeeper, who had come out a few yards from the net to stop the ball. However, the shot placed just a few inches too high, hitting the crossbar for an easy recovery clear out of harm’s way.
After fighting an injury for most of preseason, Tollman was not initially expecting to play in Saturday’s game. However, Rachel Hobert ’16, Wesleyan’s other goalkeeper, broke her finger in practice the day before the game, forcing Tollman into the start.
“[Tollman] didn’t feel fully recovered and ready, so it really took her stepping up and knowing that she was really our only option and we needed her,” Doyle said. “She did all the things she had to do well, and we’re really happy to have her back. It’s just too bad how it happened.”
Before the season began, Head Coach Eva Meredith emphasized how strong the team’s defense would be, and the Cardinal D definitely made its presence felt throughout the shutout.
After playing on the offensive side of the ball for most of last season, Doyle switched over to defense nearing the end of 2012 and has played there full-time this season. Doyle’s exceptional speed makes it very difficult for opposing attackers to get in a comfortable position, and she attributes her smooth positional transition to her great pace.
“I used to play defense before college,” Doyle said. “Luckily, I ended last season playing center back, so that eased the transition a little bit. I was always communicating with my coach to see what I was doing well and what I could work on in order to get better.”
The Cardinals’ next game is this coming Wednesday, Sept. 18 at Salve Regina University, currently 0-5-1 on the season.
“I think our second half and overtime play [against Babson] was a lot stronger than how we started,” Doyle said. “So we’ll try to go to Salve with that same progression, and we’ll hopefully get off to a faster start offensively.”
The team is looking forward to playing a familiar foe in Salve Regina, whom the Cards have defeated in their last two meetings. Wes is hoping for a similar outcome when it travels to their Wednesday, Sept. 18 match.