The women’s soccer team went 1-1 this weekend, losing to an explosive Mt. Holyoke College squad on Saturday and beating Albertus Magnus College on Tuesday.
In the first match of the weekend, the Cardinals took on the Lyons, who came into the game with a record of 1-2 but scored seven goals in their first three games while giving up only three.
On Saturday, Mt. Holyoke struck first in the 8th minute when defender Avia Jacobs found an opportunity and ripped a shot past goalkeeper Claire Coyle ’20 from a distance. With time winding down in the first half of the contest, the Lyons struck yet again when Sara Sanau Ruiz hit the crossbar, which was easily finished by junior Jamie Collings, who was in the perfect position to place it in the back of the Cardinals’ net.
Despite the score, Wesleyan’s play was commendable. The Red and Black outshot their opponent 18-6 and doubled the Lyons shots on target 8-4. Perhaps the Birds’ best chance came in the 77th minute, when defender Ella Sinfield ’19 played a beautiful cross through the Mt. Holyoke box. Despite outnumbering the Lyons’ defenders, the Cards’ were unable to put it home and were ultimately held scoreless, falling 2-0.
Back at home on Jackson Field on Tuesday, the Red and Black bounced back from the loss on Saturday in a 4-0 domination of the Albertus Magnus College Falcons. Four different Cardinals got on the board in the decisive victory, perhaps the team’s best showing yet.
Sarah Sylla ’17 continued to impress offensively, scoring early in the 5th minute to put the Cardinals up 1-0. Collecting a pass from Sinfield, Sylla blasted one past the Falcons netminder with confidence. Just over five minutes later, co-captain Chrissy Gonzalez-Gandolfini ’17 rewarded Sinfield for her hard work, slotting her a ball that the sophomore easily finished, pushing the lead to two goals.
Wesleyan continued the theme of starting out strong, scoring again not two minutes into the second half. The goal, scored by Nicole Brodkowitz ’20, was a spectacular header on a cross from Tess Edenholm ’17. Under three minutes later, in the 48th minute, Wes scored its final goal when Gonzalez-Gandolfini collected the rebound from a Victoria Matthews ’17 header and slipped it past the Albertus Magnus netminder for her first career goal.
The Birds were truly dominant offensively, taking 16 shots and putting 9 on target. Head Coach Eva Meredith was extremely impressed with her squad’s explosiveness.
“The goal was to get some early goals in today, and we accomplished that,” Meredith said. “Psychologically it means so much who scores the first goal and we got it today, and then were able to put a couple more in after that.”
The Cards’ defensive play was stellar, allowing only three shots, none of which were on target. Meg Hanan ’18 played 30 minutes in goal for the Birds, while Zoe Cassels-Brown ’20 saw the remainder of the game through.
The season is certainly off to a promising start. At 2-2, the Birds’ record is not necessarily indicative of their play. The team has been stellar defensively and has shown that it has the offensive pieces it needs to really make an impact in the competitive NESCAC.
One potential issue for the Cardinals is at the goalkeeping position. That is not to say that none of the keepers have shown promise, as each has. The rotation of keepers has not necessarily allowed any of the three to gain rhythm or momentum, which can be so crucial at the position. Perhaps in the coming weeks, a frontrunner will emerge and secure the starting role, cementing the Wesleyan defense. At the very least, both of the rookie keepers should quickly improve as they gain collegiate experience.
The squad continues its NESCAC campaign this week with a home match at Jackson Field against Bowdoin University on Saturday at 11 a.m. Last season, Wesleyan fell 2-0 to the Polar Bears in Brunswick. Hopefully, playing in the birdcage will give the team the advantage they need to earn the win.
Bowdoin enters the matchup at 2-1-0, and 1-1 in the NESCAC, defeating Bates last week after falling to Amherst in their first conference matchup of the season. With eyes on the NESCAC prize this season, Wesleyan will need to be at the top of its game on Saturday.