In a heartbreaking loss, the women’s soccer team was defeated in overtime 1-0 on Saturday, Oct. 12 by Little Three rival Williams. The Cardinal defense turned in an extremely strong performance for over 100 minutes of play, with goalkeeper Jessica Tollman ’15 leading the way with six saves.
Both Wesleyan and Williams have been exceptional this year on the defensive side of the ball. Going into Saturday’s matchup, both teams were allowing an average of less than one goal per game against NESCAC opponents. As the game played out, it became apparent that whoever scored first would almost definitely win.
Although Wesleyan got off a total of only four shots, they were not without their chances throughout the game. The Cardinals began to build very strong momentum toward the end of the first half, when they had two corner kicks within the last five minutes of the period.
Kaylie Williams ’16 took both corner kicks for Wes in the first half, and both times she was able to put the ball in good spots in the box. The Ephs were able to clear the ball out of a crowd on the first with about five minutes left in the half. Wesleyan got a shot off on the second corner with about 20 seconds remaining in the period, but it ended up sailing high and over the crossbar.
Both teams continued to play evenly throughout the first overtime until the Ephs put home the game-winner with just over two minutes remaining. Williams put a high through ball into the box from about thirty yards out, but the danger seemed to be averted when a Wesleyan defender headed away. However, the header went directly to Eph forward Kristi Kirshe, who fired a hard shot over Tollman for the win.
“We definitely had places where we were outplaying them enough to win,” said Cardinals defender Anne Coyle ’17. “It felt good to be able to compete with a team that’s usually considered to be at the top of the NESCAC, so it definitely made us feel good about the season going forward.”
Kerry Doyle ’14, Hannah Knudsen ’14, Kaylie Williams ’16, and Carly Swenson ’17 all played strongly on defense for the Cardinals, as it was the fourth time this year that the team had played all of regulation without allowing a goal. The game was also a nice defensive recovery after losing 3-0 to Roger Williams University in their previous game.
Although Williams outshot Wesleyan 14-4, the Cardinals were not stagnant on offense; they were able to advance the ball up the field throughout the game. Marisa Yang ’16 led the Cardinals in shots with two, while Tess Daggett-Edenholm ’17 and Chrissy Gonzalez-Gandolfi ’17 each recorded one shot as well.
“I think it was more us connecting than their defense having anything too special,” Coyle said.
The Cardinals’ next game comes at Amherst on Saturday, Oct. 19 as Wesleyan continues to look for its first NESCAC win of the year. The team has turned in plenty of close games so far and is constantly improving on the offensive end.
“I think [the game against Williams] was definitely an improvement,” Coyle said. “Our coach keeps telling us that instead of just playing 45 minutes, we played the whole 90, and that’s what needs to be done in order to win.”
Wesleyan will need to continue its strong defensive play in order to compete with Amherst next week; the Lord Jeffs currently rank second in NESCAC play in goals scored this season. Last year, the Cardinals lost to Amherst in overtime 1-0 in a tough game marked by an impressive nine saves from Wesleyan goalkeepers.
At this point in the season, the Cardinals are putting emphasis on getting better every single practice, and making sure that there is never a lack of effort.
“Each practice, we’ve been focusing on each player giving an extra two percent from what they gave their last time out,” Coyle said. “If we can keep that going, I think we’ll have a shot to win.”