Women’s soccer suffered a setback on Saturday, dropping their NECSCAC opener in a 3-1 loss to the Polar Bears of Bowdoin. Even playing at home in the Bird Cage, the Cards could not muster the mental and physical toughness needed to freeze the Polar Bears.
Bowdoin controlled the pace of play for almost the entire first half, but did not manage to strike until the 31st minute, when Nikki Wilson slipped one by Cardinal goalkeeper Claire Coyle ’20 to give her team the 1-0 edge. The Birds showed resilience defensively against the Polar Bear attacks for the rest of the half, holding them scoreless for the remaining 15 minutes.
Just over 20 minutes into the second half, Bowdoin first-year Talia Missan scored her first career goal on a deflection from inside the six-yard box. Despite the bad luck, the Red and Black rallied, scoring in the 69th minute and cutting the lead in half. The goal came when midfielder Tess Daggett-Edenholm ’17 placed a beautiful corner kick at the top of the box, where she found Sophia Linguiti ’19 waiting. Linguiti ripped a shot by the Bowdoin keeper for the Cardinals’ first NESCAC goal of the season.
Despite the Birds’ comeback effort, the Polar Bears managed to score another goal in the 78th minute, as first-year Morgan Gallagher placed one just out of reach of fellow rookie Coyle for her first career goal. Coyle finished up the day with four saves, while Polar Bear goalkeeper Rachel Stout made five. The Polar Bears held the edge in shots at 15-3, as well as corner kicks at 9-1.
The day was disappointing for the Cardinals overall, and although they had good moments, the squad looked particularly flat. Captain and key defender Carly Swenson ’17 echoed similar sentiments.
“Our team is extremely disappointed, both in our performance and in the outcome of the game on Saturday,” Swenson said. “I felt that we prepared as best as we could for our first conference match up. A lot went wrong, but I would say that our mental game was not as strong as theirs. We showed a lack of urgency and hunger all over the field, at every position, which ultimately led to our defeat. However, instead of holding our heads low, we are heading into this week in a positive way, knowing that our season still looks bright. We will not let this loss define our team, and we can easily get this season back on track with twin victories in our next two match ups, with Tufts and Bates.”
With the loss, the Cardinals fall to 2-2-0 overall, and 0-1-0 in NESCAC play. The win, the Polar Bears’ second straight in the NESCAC, brings their record to 3-1-0, and 2-1 in conference play.
The Cards return to the pitch this coming Wednesday, when they will travel to Medford, Mass. to face the Tufts Jumbos. The Jumbos are currently 3-0-1 overall and 2-0-0 in conference, with wins over the Mules of Colby and the Bates Bobcats. However, the Cardinals have looked particularly good against the Jumbos in the past two years. They recorded the sole point of their 2014 campaign with a tie in Medford and improved for a 2-1 victory last season in Middletown. But with a revamped squad this season, the Jumbos should prove worthy adversaries.
The Bobcats have had a tough season so far, sitting at 2-3-0, and 0-3-3 in the NESCAC, with losses against Hamilton, Bowdoin, and Tufts. Last season, the two sides tied 1-1 in a hard fought contest. After losing key pieces this year, Bates is struggling defensively. The revamped Wesleyan offense, if it plays at the high level it is capable of, should make short work of the floundering Bobcats.
Around the NESCAC, perpetual contenders Williams and Amherst continue to impress, landing first and third New England regional rankings respectively. Williams retains the first spot in national rankings as well. Middlebury came out of the woodwork to beat Amherst 1-0 on Saturday. Connecticut College also looks particularly strong this year at 3-0-0 to start, despite finishing with Colby as one of the only two NESCAC schools to finish below Wesleyan in the 2015 standings. Wesleyan beat the Camels pretty handily during the preseason, which is a good indication that when they play their best, they can certainly play with the top dogs in the NESCAC.