The women’s soccer team ended its season last Tuesday with a 2-0 loss to in-state and NESCAC rival Connecticut College. Previously, the team had fallen 2-0 to Amherst in a loss that put their hopes of making the NESCAC playoffs to rest. The losses capped off a disappointing season for the Cardinals, who finish with a win percentage of .300, with a 3-9-3 record. The squad’s NESCAC record of 0-7-3 marked a last-place finish, although playoff contention was only four points out of reach. The team overall had a down year, after an improvement last season in which they took away three conference wins. However, with lots of young talent, the Cards certainly have something to look forward to in the years to come.
The Camels struck first in the matchup when junior Michelle Medina put one past Wesleyan goalkeeper Meg Hanan ’18 in the 17th minute of play. Medina collected a shot off the post from a teammate and powered it into the back of the Cardinals’ net to give her squad the 1-0 advantage early.
Both defenses were almost impenetrable for the majority of the game, and neither team’s offense was able to get much going. Wesleyan’s trio of Chrissy Gonzalez-Gandolfini ’17, Carly Swenson ’17, and Kinsey Yost ’19 was particularly menacing, keeping the Camels down to only eight shots on goal. Offensively, Liz Young ’19 and Nicole Brodkowitz ’20 led the Cardinals, each taking two shots which narrowly missed. In the 85th minute, Alex Baltazar added a second goal for the Camels, solidifying a 2-0 win and propelling her team into the NESCAC’s second-to-last playoff spot.
Hanan made six saves in the contest. Conn College’s keeper faced just two shots on goal, turning both aside.
Swenson commented on the final game of her college career.
“We were disappointed with the result, especially since we beat Conn 2-1 in overtime last season,” she said. “They are definitely a good team, but were also beatable. To their credit, [the Camels’] defense played really well and kept us from getting our offense going.”
The loss to Conn completed a four-game slide for the Cardinals, who dropped four straight NESCAC games to close out the season. The second half of the season was especially tough for the Red and Black, with matches against the NESCAC’s top teams Williams, Amherst, and Middlebury, whom the Birds lost to 6-0, 1-0, and 2-0, respectively. Williams, the number two-ranked team in the nation, is a favorite to win the NCAA national championship, and they showed why in their dominant performance against the Cards two weeks ago.
The conference itself proved to be a problem for Wesleyan, who finished with only three points in conference play on three ties. The NESCAC is consistently rated as one of the most competitive DIII conferences in the country, and the Cardinals’ overall record shows this. Before the four-loss streak to finish the season, the Birds put together a dominant performance against St. Joseph College, winning 5-0. The Cards went 3-2-0 out of conference and scored 12 goals in those five games. In comparison, the Red and Black scored just three goals in 10 conference match-ups. Hopefully the team can pull it together next season and get its offensive production going in NESCAC play.
The future indeed is bright for the program. The first- and second-year classes contributed largely to the team’s improvement this year. The team will certainly miss the defensive efforts of Swenson and Gonzalez-Gandolfini, however with sophomore Yost cementing her spot as a solid centerback, the Cardinals should be able to focus on offensive production. Sarah Sylla ’17 will also be missed, after leading the Cardinals with five goals this season. A bright spot, however, is that six of nine Wesleyan goal scorers this year were underclassmen, including Mo Nelson ’19 and Nicole Brodkowitz ’20 who had five points each. The backfield is equally youthful; sophomores Meg Harrop, Sophia Linguitti, Ella Sinfield, and Yost comprised the majority of the team’s starts.
Hopefully the addition of a strong 2021 class will bolster the program and allow it to enter its 2017 campaign as a NESCAC contender. Continued development of young players and a concerted offseason effort could be all the Cardinals need to bring home a NESCAC title next season.