The women’s soccer team lost a hard-fought battle to Colby with a score of 2-1 this past weekend. The squad’s fall was not due to a lack of effort: the Cardinals outshot their opponents 10-9 and forced eight corner kicks, compared to only two by the home team.
Colby struck first, with the Mules’ Maddie Tight beating Wesleyan keeper Jessica Tollman ’15 in the seventh minute of the game. Tollman charged hard to the ball but was bested when Tight lofted the shot over her head. At the intermission, Colby still had a one-goal advantage. The Mules added to their lead in the 67th minute when Amanda Finley tallied one for Colby. However, the Redbirds were not discouraged.
After battling in Colby’s defensive zone, the Birds earned a corner in the 78th minute. Wesleyan cut the deficit in half when Sarah Sylla ’17 struck home a corner kick by Maddy Chabot ’15. The goal marked Sylla’s first of the season; she had missed the previous seven games due to an injury. Despite the goal, the Cardinals were unable to complete the comeback and dropped a tough game, with their record falling to 1-1-7 on the season, including a 0-1-4 record in NESCAC play. Tollman finished with four saves on the day, after only playing the first half against Hamilton the previous weekend.
The defeat at the hands of Colby was the sixth one-goal loss of the season for the team, which includes four conference games. While its record may not reflect it at the moment, the team has talent, and it is only a matter of time before the ball begins to bounce its way.
Carly Swenson ’17 offered some insight into the Cardinals’ season so far.
“I think every game has been very competitive,” she said. “I don’t think we’re outplayed in any game, but [it’s] those few chances that the other teams take–that we don’t take–that really make a difference. We’ll get a couple chances to score, and we won’t put it in, and they’ll take advantage of our mistakes on defense and put it in. I think that we expected to win more games, but we haven’t. I don’t think we’ve been playing to the best of our ability, and we haven’t been able to capitalize on chances we’ve had in some games.”
Swenson also spoke to what she thinks are the team’s biggest strengths and weaknesses so far this season.
“One of our biggest weaknesses has been [being] unable to take advantage when the opposing team makes mistakes,” she said. “Our strength would definitely be our team chemistry in the field. We’re able to communicate well with each other, and our passing game has been pretty good as a result of being in sync with each other.”
A good sign for the Cardinals is the contribution of young players to the team. Chrissy Gonzalez-Gondolfi ’17 had high praise for a few of her teammates.
“Ellie Dempsey [’18] has really stepped it up in the back,” Gonzalez said. “She moved to center back [this year], which is really difficult because she’s never played there before, and I think [the first-year players] have added to the team chemistry.”
Dempsey has started five games so far for the Redbirds and has added a goal from the back as well.
Swenson hopes the season can end on a high note for the squad.
“We have four or five more NESCAC games, so we’re really trying to win all of them,” she said. “Our goal is to get into the playoffs. Right now,
we’re not in the best standing. We have Williams this weekend, so winning that game could really boost our confidence. Hopefully, the team will pull it out.”
After winning, Colby moves up to ninth place with four points. Meanwhile, Wesleyan is now tied with Trinity for last in the conference with one point apiece. In order to qualify for the postseason, the Cardinals will have to earn a top-eight position. Hamilton and Middlebury are currently tied for seventh place with six points each.
Next up for the Cardinals is a trip to Williamstown for a Little Three matchup. The Ephs are tied for third in the conference with nine points and are motivated to earn a home playoff game. Last season, Wesleyan lost to Williams 1-0 in overtime during the regular season and also fell 3-1 to the Purple Cows in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC tournament.