MIDDLETOWN, CT—The Williams College Ephs (0-1 NESCAC) took the field for their first game of the season at 1:00 this afternoon. The away match-up took place against the Wesleyan Cardinals (1-0 NESCAC).
Upset-minded Williams pushed #20 Wesleyan to overtime by scoring the final three goals of regulation in the second half, before falling 10-9 in OT. The Ephs got two goals from Kara Wollmers and one from Suzanna Penikis to tie the game a 9-9.
The opening draw control was won by Wesleyan, but possession did not last for long. Sophomore Kara Wollmers, grabbed a ground ball pickup just 30 seconds in. Fast action continued, and by the game's second minute the Ephs had a shot on goal, taken by senior and captain Caroline Hogan. Though this shot was saved by the Wesleyan goalkeeper, sophomore Allegra Grant, the Ephs did not let this slow them down. Within seconds, junior Kailie Saudek took another shot, assisted by Hogan, and put the game's first points on the board.
The teams were very closely matched throughout the whole first segment of the game, and matched each other shot for shot for the few minutes following this first goal. Then, with seven minutes down, Wesleyan sophomore Abby Manning forced a turnover on Williams, gaining her team control of the ball. Assisted by junior Caitlin Wood, Manning then put the Cardinals on the scoreboard. Wesleyan won draw control following this goal and quickly followed their first score with another, a successful free position shot from Wood.
The ball moved back and forth across the field for the next three minutes until, with 20:26 on the clock a foul on Wesleyan gave the Ephs ball control. The free position shot was taken by senior and captain Kat Fearey, who brought the game's score to a tie. Play continued with high intensity with several shots but no scores. In the 18th minute of play, Cardinal sophomore Emma Richards netted a goal unassisted, breaking the tie that had held for nearly one third of the half. The Ephs were quick to respond, and with 11:34 remaining to the half, Wollmers took a shot on goal. It was saved by Grant but followed closely by a free position shot from Wollmers, who netted the ball, tying the score once again.
It seemed the 3-3 score would hold through the rest of the half, but with a minute and a half remaining Richards scored again, unassisted as before. The Cardinals took one more shot before the close of the period, but it was wide. At half-time Wesleyan led by one point.
The second half began with draw control for Williams and three consecutive fouls on the Cardinals. Just a minute and a half in the Ephs had their second free position attempt of the period, first-year Claire Fitzpatrick took a solid shot on goal, but it was saved by Grant. There was then a series of quick turnovers, ending with a ground ball pickup by sophomore Julia Gretsky from Wesleyan. With the clock at 26:52, Cardinal junior Abigail Horst scored the fifth Wesleyan goal. This was rapidly followed by a goal, unassisted, from CR Sophia Millay.
The Ephs continued retaliation with a shot by junior Emma Tenbarge, but the shot was wide. Tenbarge was back with another shot just seconds later, saved by Grant. The Eph shooting streak continued with a wide shot by Millay, rapidly followed by another from Wollmers. This last was successful. The lead had been cut down to only one point.
Ten minutes into the half, the Cardinals scored again. After a successful clear, Wood netted the ball unassisted. The goal was followed by another Wesleyan shot 30 seconds later, but the second shot was saved by the Eph goalkeeper, sophomore Kami Cisneros.
With 20:10 on the clock, first-year Meghan Halloran went into play. The Ephs successfully cleared the ball, and Halloran made a pass to Millay. Millay took the shot, and sent the ball into the net. The score was then tied 6-6, but this didn't last for long. Within the next two minutes, Manning scored two more points for the Cardinals, one of these assisted by first-year Kat Cucullo. Wesleyan scored again two minutes later, with an unassisted shot by senior Julia Black.
With15:16 on the clock, Wollmers scored her 3rd goal of the game, bringing the score to 7-9. Wesleyan's Cucullo took a shot, but it was blocked, and the ground ball was picked up by Eph senior Jenny Roach. Williams cleared the ball, and, with 12:56 remaining, Wollmers scored again, taking the assist from Fitzpatrick.
This score held until there were seven minutes remaining of the game. Eph junior Suzanna Penikis gained control of the ball and shot it into the net. The score was tied 9-9 going into the final minutes of the match. There were no more goals scored before the clock ran out, so the game went into a six-minute overtime period.
Williams won draw control at the start of the overtime period, and held onto this control. Just over a minute in, Wollmers took the first shot of the period, which was saved. Coach Alice Lee said of her team, "Our team did a nice job of fighting hard and playing together 'til the final whistle. I was impressed with our defensive output across the board, from our attackers to our defenders"
With the clock at 4:40, Wesleyan cleared the ball, and at 4:08 Cucullo, assisted by Manning, scored for the Cardinals. There were no other goals scored before time ran out.
After an extremely close game, Wesleyan ended with the win, having scored 10 points to their opponent's 9. Though the win went to the Cardinal's this was an extremely strong start for the Ephs' season. Williams led in shots on goal, with 22 to Wesleyan's 19, and goalkeeper Cisneros saved 9 out of those 19 shots. A fairly high number of yellow cards were given out during this game, with 2 going to each team.
Lee shared, "I was impressed with our mental toughness and ability to stay in the moment, every moment. It didn't bounce our way today but we're looking forward to learning from this game and growing as a team."
The Ephs will be taking the field again on March 6th, in an away match-up against RPI at 7:00PM EST.