The women’s soccer team remains just barely out of postseason contention, thanks to a tie and two losses in their last three matches against Hamilton, Trinity, and Colby. Slightly over halfway through their NESCAC campaign, the Cardinals will need to step it up if they hope to secure a playoff spot.
The action opened on Saturday morning at Jackson Field, where the Birds took on the Continentals, who traveled all the way down from Clinton, N.Y. and were looking for their second conference win of the season. Through 90 minutes, the game remained scoreless, leading to two double overtime periods, during which both teams showed flashes of promise. As time in the second overtime period expired, neither team managed to capitalize, ending the match in a 0-0 draw which left both sides disappointed. Cardinal captain Carly Swenson ’17 spoke to The Argus about that disappointment.
“A tie was not part of the game plan coming into today’s match,” Swenson said. “We felt that Hamilton was a very beatable team, but we know just how competitive any NESCAC matchup can be. We knew we had to come out with fire but we ultimately looked a little flat. Even when we showed flashes of intensity, we failed to convert it into significant scoring opportunities.”
Wesleyan was outshot by the Continentals 17-7, and the Cards recorded only two shots on target. Zoe Cassels-Brown ’20 anchored the Cards in the second half at goalkeeper, making seven saves.
The Birds were back at it on Wednesday afternoon against Connecticut rival and NESCAC top-dog Trinity, who came into the match at an impressive 3-1-0 NESCAC record and a 6-1-2 record overall. The first half was all Bantams, as Trinity exploded out of the gate by scoring four goals, which gave them the confidence they needed to finish out the match 4-0.
The first goal came in the 13th minute of play, as Nicole Stauffer collected the ball inside the Cardinals’ zone. She found teammate Laura Nee, who finished her chance to give her squad the early lead. Using that momentum, Trinity capitalized again just a few minutes later, at 15:41. Striker Andi Nicholson collected the ball in front of the Cardinal’s defense, but was able to use her speed to break the back line, going in on goal all alone. There was nothing Cassels-Brown could do as Nicholson came in alone and found the back of the net.
Still rolling, the visiting team added to their lead at 20:59. Stauffer continued to be a menace to the Red and Black as she connected with teammate Taylor Kirchgessner for the Bantams’ third goal of the half, bringing her assist total to two.
After the Kirchgessner goal, the pace of the match slowed, and Wes looked as if it might have found a rhythm. It was not to last, however, and Trinity struck for a fourth and final time at 38:08 off a dangerous corner kick. Sheena Landy found a hole in the Cardinals defense and used her head to power the ball into the back of the net.
Second-half play was more equitable, and at times the Birds looked dangerous. Lauren Goetzman ’19, Olivia Gorman ’19, and Mo Nelson ’19 all had good looks for the Cardinals, but were denied by the spectacular play of Trinity goalkeeper Julia Pitino. The Wesleyan defense went into lockdown mode, and did not allow another goal. An early goal may have been all the Red and Black needed to get back into the game, but it was not to be. As the final whistle blew, the scoreboard read 4-0 in favor of the visiting team.
Looking to bounce back, the Birds traveled to Waterville, Maine on Saturday to take on the Colby Mules in a battle for the last NESCAC playoff spot. A win for the Cardinals would have allowed them some breathing room in their quest for a postseason berth. Although the Cards showed tremendous offensive prowess, the spectacular play of Colby goalkeeper Samantha Rizzo, who turned aside 15 shots on target, kept them off the scoreboard. The lone goal of the match, conceded in the 22nd minute and scored by Colby’s Aliza Van Martin, would prove to be all the Mules needed to walk away with their second NESCAC victory of the season. Sarah Sylla ’17, Lauren Goetzman ’19, and Nola Neri ’20 looked particularly dangerous for the Red and Black, but ultimately could not finish their attempts.
Hopefully, the squad can revive its offensive domination and begin putting balls in the back of the net in their next contest, a non-league matchup against St. Joseph College this Wednesday at 4 p.m. on Jackson Field.