MIDDLEBURY, VT – The Williams women's soccer team lost a heartbreaker today to Middlebury (10-1-2, 8-1-0 NESCAC) 1-0. Scarlett Kirk netted a 90th minute goal to lift the Panthers past the Ephs (8-2-2, 5-2-1 NESCAC) in the competitive NESCAC matchup.
The game was exciting from the opening minutes. After firing over the net a few plays earlier, Kirk had a good opportunity for the Panthers from the middle of the box just five minutes into the game. She rocketed the ball on net, but Eph keeper Hannah Van Wetter came off her line to control the ball in the air by the left post.
The Ephs controlled much of the early play as they used the wind to their benefit to keep the ball in their offensive end. They tried to take advantage of their speed up top early. Alison Magruder had several runs into the box by herself, but Middlebury goalie Elizabeth Foody calmly thwarted several potential Magruder opportunities.
The Ephs looked like they may finally connect when they were awarded a corner kick just over twenty minutes into the half. Mai Mitsuyama curved the kick perfectly into the box from the right corner. Foody just punched the ball out of bounds. After the ensuing corner kick resulted in yet another, the Panthers tried to clear the ball. Audrey Thomas, however, fired the ball on net for the Ephs from the top of the box. Foody made the save to keep the game scoreless.
Despite the Ephs' controlling play for much of the half, Middlebury rallied its offense in the final ten minutes. The Panthers had their best opportunity of the half in the 35th minute. Kirk made a move around a pair of defenders at the top of the box. She crossed the ball perfectly towards the right post, but no Panther player was able to get a touch on the ball to knock it into the net.
With just three minutes left to play, though, the Ephs had a great look of their own. Gabz Amos-Grosser carried the ball up the right sideline and passed inside. Lindsey Vandergrift headed the ball towards the cage. Foody momentarily lost the ball, and it lay free just feet from the goal line. However, she was able to clear before the Ephs could capitalize on the loose ball.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the final couple minutes, and the game went into the break scoreless.
Out of halftime, both teams continued to be aggressive; however, neither team was able to break through the other's defense.
The teams continued to play hard for the entire half, and much of the second half's excitement came in the closing minutes. With just three minutes to play, Julia Favorito fired on net. Van Wetter slid on the ground and scooped up the ball to keep it scoreless. On the ensuing Williams possession, Katie Wardlaw carried the ball into the box by herself. She made a move around a pair of defenders and kept the ball on the ground as she put it on net. Foody was able to make the diving save on the post.
With just fifty seconds remaining, the Panthers finally ended the draw. Carter Talgo carried the ball up the field and played the through ball perfectly to Kirk, who had run ahead into open space. Van Wetter came off her line to make the play, and Kirk put it past the Eph keeper into the bottom right corner of the net.
Despite the late goal, the Ephs played hard until the end of the game and nearly scored off of a loose ball in the box. A foul was called, though, and the Panthers cleared the ball – not allowing the Ephs another opportunity in the game's closing moments.
The Panthers outshot the Ephs by a total of 13-4 in today's game. Foody and Van Wetter each recorded three saves.
Commented head coach Michelyne Pinard after the game,"It's always a great game against Middlebury." She acknowledged how difficult it was to get scored on so late in the game but added, "We have to move on and get better; we have a big game coming up on Saturday."
Looking ahead, she said, "I think anytime you win and anytime you lose, you need to take responsibility for what you did and what you need to make better. I think everybody is taking stock in what can be better, and we are all going to move forward together."
The Ephs return to Cole to take on Bates this Saturday. Game time is set for 11:00 AM.