WILLIAMSTOWN, MA. - The best teams know how to win games, period. No matter the place, no matter the time, Williams women's soccer finds a way to come out on top in the end. Despite not playing their best soccer, Williams edged out Oneonta State in this afternoon’s second round NCAA Tournament game, 2-1, after Annelise Snyder’s goal in the 80th minute of play gave the Ephs the advantage late in the game.
The second-ranked Ephs upped their record to an astounding 19-0-0, and advance to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive year. The Red Dragons of Oneonta State finish their season at 12-6-3.
Oneonta State controlled the first half, as the Ephs struggled to maintain possession and find any offensive rhythm on the field; Melissa VandenBergh nearly scored just four minutes after the opening whistle, but an incredible diving save from Ephs’ goalkeep er Lauren Sinnenberg kept the Red Dragons off the scoreboard, at least for a little longer.
The visiting squad got on the board first at 17:46, forcing the Ephs to play behind for thirty minutes of the first period. VandenBergh got herself a second chance to contribute and took a free kick close to the sideline about 25 yards from the end line. Kayla Brantmeyer found the ball amidst a crowd in front of the net and headed the ball in for the early advantage.
“It is always uncomfortable to be playing from behind,” said Williams’ head coach Michelyne Pinard. “I am always impressed with our resilience. We knew that we were not playing our best soccer. We kept it simple, and once we did that we had more attacking opportunities.”
It looked as though Williams might head out of the first half losing fo r the first time all season long, until Sarah Walmsley was fouled hard just outside the 18-yard box. Just six inches closer to goal, and Williams would have had a penalty kick. Nevertheless, Sara Wild took the free kick and scored with ease, nailing a hard shot to the back of the net for the equalizer.
In the second half, both teams began to find more look s at net, as Williams had ten shots and Oneonta State had eight shots . In the final twenty minutes of the game, the Ephs picked up their intensity and it seemed to be a matter of time before they would convert. Finally, at 80:53, Snyder was able to dribble around a cluster of Red Dragon defenders to get off a great shot to the far left corner to give the Ephs the lead, 2-1.
“We were knocking on the door quite a bit,” said Pinard. “We did not have too many quality scoring opportunities, but any of those three up front are going to find a way to finish and score.”
Oneonta keeper Jamie Chyat recorded seven saves in the loss, while Lauren Sinnenberg recorded two saves with the win.
Williams will play The College of New Jersey (18-2-1) next weekend. The other two teams in the Sectional are Rochester (17-2-1) and Ithaca (15-4-2) The time and location have yet to be announced.