The women’s soccer team dropped both contests in a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader this weekend, posting a 1-0 loss at home against Williams followed by a 3-1 defeat to Trinity. The losses see the Cardinals drop under .500 with a 5-6-2 record (2-4-2 NESCAC).
The Red and Black kicked off against Williams on Saturday afternoon at Jackson Field, and gave the undefeated Ephs possibly their toughest matchup yet. Williams entered the match 11-0-1 overall, and 7-0-0 in NESCAC play, having blown out Colby 8-0 along the way. Last weekend, the Cards managed to beat Colby by just a single goal, suggesting that it might be a long afternoon for the squad.
After two scoreless halves, the match went into overtime. With just over five minutes left in the second overtime, Ephs junior Kristi Kirshe netted the winner, her third goal and second game-winning goal of the week. Kirshe’s chance was one of only a few for either team during the course of play.
Though the Ephs controlled possession for the majority of the first half, outshooting Wesleyan 7-2, the Wesleyan defense gave up no real dangerous opportunities, and Williams managed only two shots on goal.
The Wesleyan offense found some rhythm in the second half, with two early opportunities to score. The Williams keeper, however, made outstanding plays to preserve the shutout. The Ephs also managed two viable chances in the second half, even finding the back of the net once. The play, however, was ruled offside.
Kirshe almost ended the match in the last few moments of regulation, but her header was smothered by Meg Hanan ’18, Wesleyan’s goalkeeper. Hanan had an outstanding match, finishing with nine saves against an explosive Williams offense that has been tearing through the NESCAC as of late.
Knotted at zero, the teams headed into overtime. Senior forward Isabel Clements almost netted the golden goal for the Cardinals with just under five minutes to go in the first overtime period, but Ephs netminder, Tressa Palcheck made a diving save to keep her team undefeated. Williams countered just a few minutes later, when junior Maddie Swarr blasted one toward the corner of the Wesleyan goal. Hanan continued her spectacular performance, however, and managed the save, keeping the hopes alive for the home side.
With just under eight minutes to go in the second overtime period, it seemed that the match might end in a tie. Williams’ Kirshe, though, was ultimately not going to be stopped from scoring her second game-winning goal of the week. After collecting the ball on the right side of the box, she placed the ball in the upper-left-hand corner of the Cardinal goal, finally beating Hanan, and giving Williams the victory.
Despite the heartbreak, the Cards’ fight against the undisputed NESCAC powerhouse shows that they’ll be a tough draw for whomever they happen to face in the tournament, if they secure a spot.
Wesleyan returned to the pitch on Sunday afternoon in Hartford, for a matchup against second place Trinity. In spite of Saturday’s wrenching defeat, the team entered Sunday with confidence, knowing that they could play with the best (Williams was ranked as the third-best team in the country in the latest NSCAA poll).
The first half against the Bantams was bitterly contested, and fairly congested; the squads combined for just two opportunities. Just over two minutes into the second half, though, junior Sarah Sylla scored an unassisted goal for the Cardinals, giving Wesleyan the 1-0 edge.
Like the weather, however, Wesleyan’s luck was rotten. Amidst the snow flurries, in the 58th minute of the match, a Cardinal defender, Kinsey Yost ’19 placed an errant clearance directly into the net. The own-goal was the spark Trinity then needed to return to form after 163 straight scoreless minutes, a streak that they came into the match no doubt hoping to break. With just over ten minutes remaining, Trinity’s Andi Nicholson laced a one-time shot past Hanan from just twelve yards out to give the Bantams the 2-1 lead. Just five minutes later, Trinity capitalized on a corner kick to extend its lead to 3-1. With the win, the team from Hartford secured second place seeding in the NESCAC.
After such a hard fought contest on Saturday, the team was bitterly disappointed with its performance on Sunday. Junior Carly Swenson echoed similar sentiments when she spoke to The Argus.
“It was definitely a disappointing weekend,” she said. “We came in strong against Williams but couldn’t pull out the win. We did not play our best game against Trinity. Now our focus is to win the last two games of our season in order to secure a spot in the playoffs.”
The Cardinals kick off against Amherst next Saturday. The Lord Jeffs currently sit at third in the NESCAC, and should prove to be another tough matchup. The team finishes up its regular season campaign against Connecticut College the following Wednesday. The Camels currently sit in 10th place in the conference, just one place under Wesleyan. Though the Cards beat Conn during preseason, as last year’s NESCAC champions, they’ll prove a tough matchup, and will also be desperately fighting for a playoff spot.