WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Today, the Williams women's soccer team (2-1-2, 1-1-1 NESCAC) and rival Amherst (2-0-2, 1-0-1 NESCAC) were perfectly matched. Despite strong play all over the field, neither team was able to find the back of the net throughout regulation and two overtime periods, and the game ended in a 0-0 tie.
Both teams came out with aggressive play, but neither was able to get a good look at the net early despite several offensive opportunities. However, a line of young substitutions brought the Ephs some momentum. In the 25th minute, Audrey Thomas stole the ball in the midfield and sent it to Kristi Kirshe who was up ahead in a sea of Amherst defenders. She dribbled through to the box but fired her opportunity wide.
Just a few minutes later, Maddie Swarr sailed a ball perfectly into the box from the left sideline. Katie Wardlaw was waiting near the right post and managed to just get a foot on the ball, but the shot fell wide as well.
With just over four minutes to play, the Lord Jeffs had their best look of the half. A little give-and-go in the midfield left Emma Rothkopf with the ball in the center of the field, several yards outside the box. She fired a nice look at the net, but Hannah Van Wetter was able to collect the ball in the air to keep the game scoreless.
Out of the break, the Ephs controlled offensive play but were unable to find the back of the net. The teams both locked it in on their defensive ends to keep it scoreless.
The Ephs, however, looked like they were going to change that just over halfway through the half. Gabby Suarez fired the ball from the right sideline. Her shot was aimed perfectly at the far post, but Amherst keeper Holly Burwick jumped at the last minute and knocked the ball out of bounds.
Just over three minutes later, Crystal Lewin sent the ball from the middle of the field to Carla Nicasio, who was a few yards outside the box's top left corner. Nicasio's shot was a beauty, but Burwick punched it over the crossbar.
The Lord Jeffs turned on the offensive game with just under ten to play. Sarah Duffy sent a little pass ahead to Chloe McKenzie inside the box. Despite McKenzie's speed, Van Wetter slid to the ball to break up the play.
In the final two and half minutes, Amherst had two great looks at net. McKenzie narrowly saved an end-line ball and sent it across to Rothkopf on the other side of the box who nicely played the ball down and towards the net. Van Wetter caught the midlevel shot, but the ball came right back after an Eph turnover in the midfield. McKenzie carried the ball up the field for the Lord Jeffs and passed to Duffy, who fired at the net. Van Wetter fell to her knees and came up with the save to keep the game scoreless. The final time passed, and the game went into sudden death overtime.
The two teams brought their fire into the overtime periods. Just over halfway through the first overtime, Gabz Amos-Grosser cleared the ball beautifully to Alison Magruder. Magruder beat her defender just outside the right side of the box and crossed it beautifully into the middle, but no Eph attacker was there, and Amherst cleared it.
The Lord Jeffs countered down the other end of the field as Ariana Twomey dribbled through several defenders and fired at the net. Her opportunity fell wide. Neither team was able to convert its remaining chances, and the game went into the second overtime.
Just under three minutes to play, Duffy crossed the ball into the box to McKenzie. Van Wetter fell on the ball but was unable to possess it. The Ephs, however, cleared the ball out of danger.
With the ball cleared from the defensive end, Thomas got the ball in transition for the Ephs and carried it inside. She rocketed the ball towards the bet, but Burwick came off her line to make the save.
Despite fight from both sides, neither team was able to score in the remaining time, and the game ended in a scoreless draw.
Van Wetter ended with seven saves for the Ephs, while Burwick scooped up five for Amherst. Williams outshot the Lord Jeffs 13 to 12.
Said Coach Michelyne Pinard after the game, "I thought we executed our game plan perfectly. I think we did a lot of damage in the midfield, and I think we did a good job finding feet. Defensively we took care of their dangerous players, which I thought was great." She added, "I just think we need to not be so concerned about being pretty on top of the 18. I think we just need to get shots on frame and see what comes of it. That was the only area where I think we wish we had some moments back. Overall, I'm so proud of the fight they had, and there's no doubt we'll get better. I'm excited for the next one."
Added Pinard about her keeper, "Hannah is playing with a confidence that we need her to play with. She's playing some of her best soccer since she's been here. It's just a presence on and off the ball. Her communication, her leadership, her positioning - everything is where it needs to be, and she came up big for us today.
Pinard was also happy with her first-years' performances in their first Amherst match-up: "The first Amherst game is never easy when you're a first-year. I just thought that [the first-years] were ready. We prepared them to be ready for a challenge like this, and I thought they were. I thought they executed perfectly."
Pinard summed up the day: "I couldn't be more pleased with our overall effort. It feels like we got better today, and we're excited about that, and we're excited about moving forward."
The Ephs return to the feel next Saturday at 12 PM. They will host the Connecticut College Camels.