The women’s soccer team defeated University of Massachusetts Boston, 2-0, in their season opener on Wednesday afternoon, avenging a 1-0 loss to the Beacons a year ago.
Liz Young ’19 and Victoria Matthews ’17 each found the net for the Cardinals, and Meghan Hanan ’18 posted a shutout in her first starting game of her Wesleyan career.
Wesleyan’s play was outstanding all-around. The Cards outshot their opponent 32-7, and earned six corner kicks to the Beacons’ two. If not for the exceptional play of opposing goalkeeper Alyssa Hachey, the Red and Black surely would have scored several more goals.
The Cards peppered Hachey with eight shots in the first half, but when the halftime whistle blew the game was still knotted at zero. Shortly into the second half, Wesleyan put the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed due to a foul committed by the Cardinals. Hachey was injured on the play, and was replaced in goal by second stringer Alyssa Fugiel.
Not a minute later, the Cardinals took the lead off of a set piece taken by Kaylie Williams ’16. Williams targeted Young from 30 yards out and placed the kick perfectly, allowing Young to take a touch before blasting the ball past the keeper.
Just five minutes later, Chrissy Gonzalez-Gandolfini ’17 connected with Matthews to add another goal to Wesleyan’s lead. Gonzalez-Gandolfini played a beautiful ball in the air to Matthews just above the UMass box, and Matthews finished with a header which beat the charging keeper.
The outstanding play of the Cardinals’ defense, which limited the Beacons to just three shots in the second half, helped Cardinal netminder Hanan earn her first career shutout.
Kinsey Yost ’19 saw every minute of the match on defense for Wesleyan, and was outstanding in her first collegiate competition.
Offensively, the squad showed great improvement from last year. The young team now has the firepower to make a bonafide run at NESCAC glory.
Hanan, for one, showed in Wednesday’s contest that she is ready and able to take over the Cards’ netminding duties, easing any uncertainty.
Defender Carly Swenson ’17 told The Argus last week that the team’s goal was to compete in every practice and in every competition, and the team certainly proved her right in their first matchup. The Birds dominated on both sides of the ball, and looked solid at every position.
“We are ecstatic about our season opening win,” Swenson wrote in an email to The Argus. “Our preseason was designed to master our defensive shape and forward runs, and by executing these skills along with winning most of the 50/50 tackles, our team maintained most of the possession in the game. Having great team depth also worked to our advantage, as we were able to keep legs fresh throughout the game.”
Coach Eva Meredith was similarly pleased with the result, and also noted the importance of the depth of her squad.
“Overall [it was] a good first game of the season,” she wrote in an email to The Argus. “[There was] some nervousness in the early stages of the game before we settled in, but we were able to score two nice second-half goals. The depth of our player pool and being able to play 20 players on a hot day helped keep us fresh.”
This weekend, the Birds have a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader, where they will face two more non-conference opponents before beginning NESCAC play.
On Saturday, the Cardinals will square off against St. Lawrence University in what is poised to be a tough test. The Saints are 3-0-0 on the season, and have outscored opponents 15-1 thus far.
On Sunday, Wesleyan travels to New Haven to contest Albertus Magnus College. The Falcons are 0-1-1 on the season.
The Cardinals will begin their NESCAC campaign next Tuesday against Tufts. Last season, the teams played to a 1-1 draw in Medford. With home field advantage this year, a revamped offense, and confidence in the back, the team is well-equipped to start league play off right.