WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – In their last regular season game, the Williams College Ephs (9-6; NESCAC 5-5) hosted the Middlebury College Panthers (12-3; NESCAC 7-3) in a snowy, hard fought matchup. The high-tempo game was tied at 2 at the end of the second half, but the Panthers secured the win with a late overtime goal off of a penalty corner.
Both teams hit the ground running making for an exciting back and forth half. The Panthers opened the scoring with an unassisted goal by Grace Jennings, who capitalized on a Williams' defensive mistake. Following two consecutive shots on Draper, in which she made a diving save to stop both, the Ephs defense possessed the ball on a clear. As the breakout pass was sent, Jennings intercepted the ball and sprinted into the left side of the circle. She wound up and drove the ball, sending a hard shot past Draper and connecting just inside the right post at 10:04.
The high intensity and fast pace continued as the half went on and Williams was able to get the equalizing goal 22:49 in to the game. Off of a corner, the ball was inserted to senior, Katie Gallop who released a blistering drive through the Panther defense. While the ball got past Panther goalie, Emily Miller, her defender, Olivia Green was at the goal line to make the defensive save. Despite this defensive effort, Brissette was right in front of the cage and used her tenacity to battle with Green for possession. Ultimately, Brissette came out on top, getting a piece of the ball and pushing it behind Green to tie the game at 1.
Middlebury responded shortly thereafter to take the lead at 30:35, giving them the advantage going into halftime. Off of a corner, the Panther attack utilized their quick passing work to move the ball around the top of the circle. After three or four short passes, Lauren Schweppe received possession and passed it off to her left to the stick of teammate, Emma Johns. Johns stopped the ball and immediately drove it through the entire Williams defense and into the far right side of the cage.
Halftime gave the Ephs even more spark as they came out with confidence and momentum starting the second. Just a minute and a half in, sophomore Libby Dolan converted a goal with an assist from Rachel Brissette. Brissette collected the ball in the center of circle and dished off a pass deeper in towards the goal. Dolan was positioned just off of the right post and strategically redirected the pass, tapping it into the left side of the cage beating Miller.
There was a lot of back and forth excitement for the remainder of the half but no chances resulted in a game-winning goal. Because of the impressive defense on both sides, the game would be decided in overtime with 7 v. 7 play.
Overtime proved to be even more exciting due to the great scoring opportunities for both sides. Towards the end of the first overtime, Middlebury began possessing the ball more in the Williams half, earning them considerably more penalty corners. Williams did an excellent job defending these off, especially given the decreased number of defenders and more field space to defend in the circle. On Middlebury's 6th penalty corner attempt of the overtime, however, they notched a goal to give them the win. At 83:43, Annie Leonard got possession of the ball and slipped it through the defense on the left side of the cage. Draper had just made an incredible diving save on the previous shot, and popped back up on her feet to recover. Despite her spectacular effort, Audrey Quirk of Middlebury picked up the pass and released a quick shot, beating Draper on the right side.
Both teams had an impressive game resulting in 7 shots on goal and 11 penalty corners for Williams, and 14 shots on goal and 14 penalty corners for Middlebury. Margaret Draper played unbelievably for the Ephs, making 11 saves, and Emily Miller had 5 with a team defensive save for the Panthers.
"That was a heartbreaking loss," remarked Ephs head coach, Alix Barrale. "I thought we played extremely well all game and outplayed them especially in the second half. We just couldn't finish on our corners in overtime, but it was unfortunate the game went the way that it did. Draper was incredible throughout and this game proves that we have the ability to play with anybody."
The Ephs will be travelling for the first round of NESCACs this Saturday, October 29th. Game time and opponent will be posted tomorrow on the league website.