Women’s soccer went undefeated this past weekend, posting a hard-fought win over Colby on Saturday and a thrilling comeback tie against Middlebury on Sunday. The games improve the Cardinals to 2-2-2 in NESCAC play, and 5-4-2 overall.
The action started on Saturday afternoon at Jackson Field, where the Red and Black kicked off against the Colby College Mules. Wes dominated the game from the start, outshooting the opponent 11-2 in the first half. The Mules failed to record a shot on goal.
Liz Young ’19 almost put the Cardinals up 1-0 in the 16th minute, but a sprawling Colby goalkeeper denied her at the top of the box. Then, with just over five minutes remaining in the first half, the Birds finally capitalized on their chances. Midfielder Carly Swenson ’17 drove a low corner kick into the box where Mo Nelson ’19 blasted a half-volley into the left side-netting.
Young must have decided at halftime that she would not be denied again by the Colby netminder; she scored on an incredible over-the-head bicycle kick with just over 37 minutes to go in the match. Just three minutes later, Madeline Keane ’16 scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal, firing a missile from 40 yards out. As the ball came across her body, Keane put everything behind the ball and got a clean connection. The Colby keeper never stood a chance, as the shot sailed into the back of the net, just under the crossbar.
Despite being down 3-0, the Mules would not quit, and things got interesting when junior Aliza Van Leesten put one past Cardinal goalkeeper Meg Hanan ’18 with just under five minutes to go in the match. Tension rose further when Van Leesten broke free from the Wesleyan defense and scored again with just under a minute to go, pulling her team within a goal. The Cardinals stood their ground, however, and held on for the remaining seconds, breaking a two-game losing streak with the win.
Wesleyan rolled into its Sunday matchup against Middlebury with momentum, and it certainly showed. The Cardinals outshot the Panthers 10-4 in the first half, and had all four of the match’s corner kicks.
The Red and Black went down early, however, when in the fourth minute, junior Adrianna Gildner beat Hanan from just outside the 18 yard box, giving her team the 1-0 lead. The Cardinals responded just over 10 minutes later off of yet another Swenson corner kick. Keane tallied her second of the weekend, after receiving Swenson’s corner and firing a shot which was initially blocked by a Panther defender. Undeterred, Keane collected her own rebound, and ripped the ball past the diving Middlebury keeper.
The Panthers again capitalized from outside the 18 with under five minutes to go in the half, when junior Katherine Hobbs roped a shot just under the Wesleyan crossbar, to put the visitors up 2-1 going into halftime.
Back and forth play continued through the second half, and neither team looked particularly dangerous offensively, boding far better for the leading Panthers. However, when Wesleyan earned a corner kick in the 78th minute, Sarah Sylla ’17 continued the weekend trend of dangerous Cardinal corner kicks, when she whipped a ball across the six-yard box that went untouched and curled inside far post for the score. The end of regulation saw the teams in a deadlock, and both teams headed into overtime with intensity.
Sylla nearly ended it, firing a low shot at the Panther goal but a spectacular effort by Middlebury goalkeeper, Emily Eslinger, preserved the tie. The Cardinals almost scored again on another corner in the final thirty seconds, which went just wide, nicking the left post on its way out. The tough miss ended the match in a draw.
Despite the tie, the team was pleased with its efforts with weekend, which put it right back in the middle of the NESCAC table.
“This weekend was huge for our team,” Swenson said. “Our victory against Colby which consisted of three beautiful goals gave us great confidence coming into Sunday’s game against Middlebury. Our work rate was outstanding throughout the entire 110 minutes, and I feel that we really controlled a lot of the game. Although we came out with the tie, we are thrown right back into the mix with other top NESCAC teams and are ready for another doubleheader this weekend.”
The Cardinals are off this week, but will face Williams at home on Saturday and Trinity away on Sunday. That pairing currently sits at first and second in the NESCAC table, meaning that this weekend has massive league-wide ramifications, and will certainly be a test for a much-improved Cardinal side.