The women’s soccer team ended its season on Friday with an exciting 2-1 double overtime victory over in-state rival Connecticut College. The win capped off a roller-coaster season for the Cardinals, who finished just under .500 at 6-7-2 overall. The squad’s NESCAC record of 3-5-2 saw them finish in ninth place, just one position out of playoff contention. Though disappointing, the team vastly improved upon its 2014 campaign, in which it failed to win a single NESCAC matchup.
The Camels struck first in the matchup when sophomore Michelle Medina put one past Wesleyan goalkeeper, Rachel Hobert ’16 in the 15th minute of play. Just 20 minutes later, the Red and Black answered, when senior captain Kaylie Williams converted a free kick. Williams’ first goal of the year came at the perfect time, in her final match for the Cardinals.
After a scoreless second half, the two teams headed to overtime knotted at one. In the dying minutes of the second period of overtime, Victoria Matthews ’17 tapped a ball ahead to forward Liz Young ’19, who chipped the ball inside the far post to give the Cards the 2-1 sudden death win. With the game-winning effort, the freshman phenom added her team leading sixth goal of the season, and 11th point.
Hobert made 11 saves in her final collegiate appearance. Connecticut College’s keeper had just three saves in the loss.
The entire team, and especially the seniors, put forth a spectacular effort in their final contest; however, a 2-0 loss to Amherst last Saturday had already ruled the Cardinals out of playoff contention.
Amherst dominated the Little Three matchup from the outset, scoring what would prove to be the winning goal in the sixth minute of play. Jeffs junior Emily Hester scored both goals for the home team, adding another in the 41st minute.
Wesleyan did have its chances however, the best coming from senior Beth Alexion, whose point blank shot was just barely bested by the Amherst keeper. Freshman Maya Harlan almost evened the score at one apiece in the 36th minute on a breakaway, however, she blasted a shot just over the crossbar. Wesleyan put seven shots on cage to Amherst’s 16. Hobert played well in this matchup as well as for the Cards, recording 14 saves in the loss.
Ranked 19th in the latest NCAA coaches’ poll, Amherst moves on to the NESCAC tournament as the third seed. The fourth-ranked Ephs of Williams secured the 2015 Little Three title earlier in the season with 1-0 wins over both Amherst and Wesleyan, and enters the NESCAC tournament as the first seed and the host.
Though the team failed to make the playoffs, the program showed great improvement this season. After finishing in last place in the NESCAC in 2014, the Cardinals finished their 2015 campaign just one point away from a playoff spot, in ninth place. Offensively, the team looked much improved, tallying 17 goals, seven more than last season. Defensively, the team also made significant strides, allowing only 20 goals against, seven fewer than the 2014 season. In 2014, the team finished last in the NESCAC in both categories.
The future indeed is bright for the program. The freshman class contributed largely to the team’s improvement this year, with Young leading a renewed offense, and Kinsey Yost ’19 anchoring the defense at center back. The team will certainly miss its senior class, and especially the offensive efforts of senior Madeline Keane, whose eight points were the second most on the squad. However, the next eight top point-scorers were underclassmen, indicating that there is nowhere for the Cardinals to go but up.
Hopefully, the addition of a strong class of (can you believe it) 2020 will bolster the program, and allow it to enter its 2016 campaign as a NESCAC contender. Continued development of young players and a concerted off-season effort could be all the Cardinals need to bring home a NESCAC title next season.
In an interview with The Argus, junior Carly Swenson offered her final thoughts on the season, and echoed these sentiments.
“Although it was extremely disappointing not to make the playoffs this season, we have improved tremendously from last year,” Swenson said. “With a team that is determined to work hard throughout the off-season, we will be ready to come into next season even stronger.”