The women’s soccer team came away from this past week with two points after ties against NESCAC foes Tufts and Bates. Both games went into double overtime, and each highlighted specific areas where the squad shines and others where the Cards could improve.
On Wednesday, the Birds traveled to Somerville, Mass., where they took on the Jumbos of Tufts. The squad has not lost to Tufts in two years and was looking forward to a strong performance coming off a disappointing loss against Bowdoin.
The Cards were slow out of the gate, and the Jumbos proved to be the more dangerous team from early on, outshooting Wesleyan 17-8. Despite all of their chances, Tufts could not manage to put a ball by Zoe Cassels-Brown ’20, who made nine saves between the pipes for the Red and Black.
Sarah Sylla ’17 continued to lead the Wesleyan offense, taking two shots during the contest. Perhaps the squad’s best chance of the evening came after regular time ended at 0-0 in the first overtime period. At the 99th minute mark, Sylla took advantage of a blunder by Tufts goalkeeper Emily Bowers and fired a shot on target. Bowers made an extremely athletic play, however, and managed to recover just in time to get her fingertips on the shot. The remainder of overtime was relatively uneventful, and the game ended tied at 0-0 after double overtime.
Although the tie saw Wesleyan earn its first NESCAC point of the season, the team was disappointed with both their execution and the result and vowed to come out strong on Saturday in their third conference matchup of the season against Bates, who came into the game at 2-5-1 overall, including four NESCAC losses.
The Cardinals came out looking strong and controlled the action early on. Nicole Brodkowitz ’20 tallied her first career goal at Wesleyan in the 11th minute through a spectacular individual effort. While Wes dictated the pace of play for the remainder of the half, the score remained 1-0 when the halftime whistle blew.
Continuing Wesleyan’s tendency of tallying early goals, Sylla added her fourth score of the year just over 10 minutes into the second half of the match off a beautiful ball from Olivia Gorman ’19. Down 2-0, the Bobcats went into overdrive and mounted a furious comeback effort, eventually outshooting the Cardinals 15-3 and also gaining the advantage in corner kicks 4-3. However, the Cards’ defense held fast with Cassell-Brown recording five saves over the course of the match.
While tenacious for most of this offensive onslaught, the Cardinals’ defense faltered with under 10 minutes to go in the match, giving up two goals just a few minutes apart to blow the lead. Bates’ Olivia Amdur cut the lead in half at 83:24. Reinvigorated, the Bobcats surged forward and added another on an effort by Hannah Behringer at 84:22. Bates’ two goals in the final moments of the contest marked the first time all season that a team has managed to find the back of the net more than once against the Cardinals.
Thankfully, the Cardinals managed to keep the Bobcats from tallying a game winner in the remaining minutes, and the team went into overtime with renewed energy. Both overtime periods, although hard fought, lacked any significant scoring chances, and the game ended in yet another tie.
Reflecting on the week, captain and defensive standout Carly Swenson ’17 voiced the team’s disappointment with their play.
“We certainly aren’t happy with the tie against Bates, because that was a very winnable game,” she said. “There are simple mistakes that have been made throughout several games. This coming weekend is our chance to finally put the mistakes to rest and move forward with the season because we know we can do better.”
The team returns to NESCAC play on Oct. 1, when they will take on the Hamilton Continentals at 11 a.m. on Jackson Field. Hamilton currently sits just above Wesleyan in the NESCAC standings at 2-4-1 overall and 1-4-0 in conference play. Last season, the Birds dropped a hard-fought contest to the Continentals 1-0, despite an impressive six-save performance by Meghan Hanan ’18. Hopefully, a quality win against a conference opponent will give the Cardinals the momentum they need to turn the season around and get back in the playoff hunt.