HOBOKEN, NJ – The Williams women's soccer team advanced to the NCAA Sectional Semifinals today after defeating Westfield State 2-1 at Stevens Institute. The Ephs were led by a first-half penalty kick by first-year Lilly Wellenbach and a second-half finish by senior Nicole Stenquist. The Owls will end their year at 15-4-2 while the Ephs find themselves at 12-4-3.
Westfield State was on the board first just five minutes into the game. Kayley Miller had a good look at the net for the Owls, but Eph keeper Laura Wann made an incredible save to send the shot over the crossbar. The Owls were awarded a corner on the play. Miller served the ball from the left side into the box, where Kate Wye finished to give them the early 1-0 lead.
Just under two minutes later, Stenquist looked to counter for the Ephs with a rocket of a shot from the left side after winning a 50-50 ball. The goalie Jess Habif, however, was able to drop to her knees to make the save.
After making a tactical change to place more players in the mid-field, the Ephs controlled play for the rest of the half. They were gunning for a goal and finally found one in the 34th minute. When Brett Eisenhart beat Habif to a cross in the box, Habif was charged with a foul for taking the attacker to the ground. Habif was awarded a yellow card and the Ephs a penalty kick. Wellenbach stepped up to take the shot for the Ephs and finished to tie the game.
The Ephs continued to pressure offensively for the rest of the half but were unable to finish. Williams tallied 18 shots in the half while holding the Owls to just six.
Both teams came out of the break searching for the go-ahead goal. The Owls had the first three looks look at the net, though, behind shots from Miller, Brittanie McGregor and Colleen Bazinet. Miller's shot fell wide and McGregor's and Bazinet's shots were both blocked though.
After a few good looks at the net, the Ephs finally found their scoring opportunity in the 70th minute. Following an Owl foul, the Ephs lined up to take a free kick from 15 yards out on the left side. The ball was on target into the six where Stenquist was able to find the back of the net. The goal is the senior's first of the year. Caitlyn Clark was credited with the assist.
Said Coach Michelyne Pinard about her senior captain after the game, "I'm thrilled for Nic. I knew she was going to be the hero at some point this year. She works so hard and does so much for us on and off the ball. It was just great to see her rewarded like that."
The goal proved enough for the Ephs to move on to the next round of the tournament. The game will take place next Saturday, but the time and location have yet to be determined.
Said Coach Pinard about today's matchup, "It was a great game. I thought we created a lot of offensive opportunities. We just needed to finish them, and finish we did in the second half."
Looking ahead, Coach Pinard added, "I don't think we'll prepare any differently. Each day we're trying to get better, so that's our goal. That's what our goal will be this week to make sure we're as prepared as we can be for Saturday."