Panthers hand Ephs first NESCAC loss, 3-1
WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Williams women's soccer team dropped its final regular-season game today to Middlebury (11-1-1, 8-1-1 NESCAC) 3-1. Julia Favorito scored for the Panthers in the first half while Scarlett Kirk added two in the second. Carla Nicasio scored the Ephs' only goal. Today's game was the Ephs' first loss in league play as they move to 10-3-1 overall and 8-1-1 in the NESCAC.
The Panthers controlled much of the opening frame with their stellar passing game. They were first on the board in the 14th minute when Favorito found the back of the net. Kirk fed the ball into the box from the left sideline. Favorito played the ball down with a header and made a quick move before sailing the ball over Eph keeper Laura Wann's head.
The play proved back and forth for a while, and the Ephs continued to fight hard to get on the board. With just over 15 minutes left in the half, Mai Mitsuyama took a free kick from just inside the 50-yard line. She fed the ball into the box where Carla was able to get a head on it. Elizabeth Foody, however, was able to keep the ball out with her outstretched hand as she fell to the ground.
The Panthers tried to add to their lead with just over six minutes to play. Favorito was by herself in the top right portion of the box. She had a good look at the net, but Wann was able to come to the near post and make a great save to keep the score at 1-0 as the teams went into the break. Middlebury outshot Williams by a tally of six to three in the opening frame.
The Ephs came out looking to tie the game up, and they did on the shoulders of Nicasio. Nicasio carried the ball up the left sideline and in and beat two defenders. With Foody on the left post, she rocketed the ball over her head and into the top of the net. The goal was her fourth of the year. The goal provided a momentum boost for the Ephs as they started to control play more.
Despite the Ephs' added push, the Panthers refused to go away. Middlebury countered just over twenty minutes into the second half. Kirk carried the ball up the right side of the field. Wann came out to try to stop the breakaway, but Kirk was able to get the shot off. Her shot found the lower left corner of the net despite the efforts by four Eph defenders to beat the ball to the goal. Favorito was credited with the assist.
Just minutes later, the Ephs looked like they might score again. Mitsuyama dished the ball into the box off of a corner. Crystal Lewin was able to get off two shots, but Middlebury defenders blocked them both. Caitlyn Clark was able to keep the ball in the box and looked like she might get one of her own, but she collided with Foody, and Middlebury was able to clear.
In the 71st minute, the Panthers struck again. After forcing a turnover in the midfield, Favorito took over and passed ahead to Kirk in the center of the field just outside of the box. With Wann alone up ahead, Kirk arced the ball over her head for her ninth goal of the year and second on the day.
Both teams continued to push for the rest of the game. Favorito had another good look at the net with 12 minutes on the clock. Wann, however, made a great save on the point-black shot from the center of the box. Down the other end just over four minutes later, the Ephs looked like they might gain a goal back. Nicasio received a through pass by herself in the middle of the box. She had a great look at the net, but Foody was able to make a beautiful kick save to keep the game at 3-1. The rest of the half passed without any real opportunities for either team.
The Panthers outshot the Ephs today 14-10. Wann posted five saves for the Ephs and Foody recorded four for the Panthers.
Said Coach Michelyne Pinard after the game, "Anytime you play a team like Middlebury, it makes you better. I think we got better throughout the game. Come Saturday, we're fighting for our lives, so we need to make sure we start with that same energy we're ending with."
She added, "I think we're at our best when we're putting pressure on teams. We let Middlebury come at us a little bit and have too much time on the ball and that gave them some confidence in keeping the ball and going forward. I think we need to make sure we're high pressuring and high pressuring as an eleven (going forward)."
Today's game determined the final standings as the teams enter playoffs. With the loss, the Ephs move into second place while Middlebury takes first. While Middlebury, Amherst, and Williams all finished the year with an 8-1-1 record in the league, the head-to-head tie-breaker leaves Middlebury in first, Williams in second, and Amherst in third because Middlebury beat Williams, Williams beat Amherst, and Amherst and Middlebury tied. The Ephs will host seven seed Connecticut College on Saturday at 12:30 PM. The Ephs defeated the Camels 1-0 in their match-up earlier in the year. Below is more information on the NESCAC playoff.
With regards to the playoff game, Pinard said, "I think this team day-by-day, game-by-game has gotten better, and that's been our goal. Obviously there's a little more urgency given that if we lose we go home. I think that will take care of itself as far as creating energy."
2012 NESCAC WOMEN'S SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIPSaturday, October 27 at Higher SeedsQuarterfinal Games
#8 Wesleyan at #1 Middlebury – 12:30 pm#7 Connecticut College at #2 Williams – 12:30 pm
#6 Colby at #3 Amherst – 12:30 pm
#5 Hamilton at #4 Bowdoin – 1:30 pmSaturday, November 3 at Highest Remaining SeedSemifinal Games - 11:00 am | 1:30 pm
Highest Remaining Seed vs. Lowest Remaining Seed
Remaining Quarterfinal WinnersSunday, November 4FinalsSemifinal Winners – 12:00 pm