WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- Williams (4-6/1-5 NESCAC) faced off against Wesleyan (8-3/4-2 NESCAC) on Farley-Lamb Field this afternoon. Wesleyan broke a 6-6 tie with Williams early in the second half with five unanswered goals to claim an 11-6 win and their first outright Little Three title since 1982.
Coach Mason commented that "Wesleyan has a really good team this year, and we knew that going in." So it was no surprise that the game started off strong for the visiting team, with junior Liana Mathias scoring the game's first goal just over a minute in. The game soon changed directions, however, when senior Katie Gallop scored for the Ephs, unassisted, at 23:22. This was the first of the four goals Williams was to score in the first half as Williams opened up a 4-1 lead. Two of these goals were scored by sophomore Suzanna Penikis, and Gallop followed up her own goal with two assists.
Wesleyan first-year Emma Richards received a yellow card at 8:13.
With three minutes left of the half, Wesleyan began to answer these points back. First-year Antonia Kaz started the rally, scoring with an assist by Mathias. Junior Rachel Aronow scored the next goal on a free position shot, and first-year Abby Manning tied it up, assisted by Mathias, with 6 seconds remaining on the clock.
The scored was tied at 4-4 at the half.
The second half began with some back and forth scoring. Senior Jenna Chodos started it off with a free position goal for Williams, followed by two Wesleyan goals in quick succession—one by Mathias and the other by senior Meredith Smith. After a hard-won clear, a timeout was called by Williams. The team re-entered the game with an energy boost, and Chodos scored again at 16:32, just 20 seconds after the timeout, tying the score up at 6-6.
Unfortunately for the Ephs, this did not lead into a new burst of scoring. In the final 12 minutes of the game, Wesleyan scored 5 more times without another point from Williams. Two of these Wesleyan goals were scored by Mathias and two by Manning. The visitors handled the ball skillfully and used penalties to their full advantage, scoring 4 times out of their 8 free position attempts.
Unforced turnovers, a particular weakness for the Ephs this season, also had a hand in the Cardinals' win. Coach Mason says that this is something the team has been working to clean up in their game.
Mason also commented that the score "was not really the score." Toward the end of the game, as Wesleyan's lead was getting wider, the team made the choice to play more aggressively and come out into the field in order to increase their chance of gaining possession and scoring. This meant they could not "sit back and try to protect the goal," which left their defense more open and allowed more points in from the opposing team than may otherwise have been scored. To anyone watching, it was, as Mason agrees, a much closer game than the score shows.
The goal that put the Cardinals into the lead, effectively gaining them the win, was an unassisted shot by Mathias at 11:20.
Wesleyan was led in scoring by Mathias, who scored 4 times and assisted twice during the game. The Cardinals' goalkeeper Grace McCann saved 3 out of the 9 shots on goal.
Penikis and Chodos led Williams, with two points each. Gallop also did particularly well offensively, scoring once and assisting twice. Senior goalkeeper Margaret Draper saved 7 of the 18 shots on goal.
Wesleyan led in shots overall, posting 24 to Williams' 13. They also had the lead in clears, succeeding in all 13 clear attempts. Williams had the most ground balls and turnovers.
Williams will next be in action on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. when they host Hamilton at Farley-Lamb Field, while Wesleyan will be on the road Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. to play at Trinity.