WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Williams women's soccer team defeated the Bates Bobcats (4-8-1, 1-7-1 NESCAC) 3-0 today. The Ephs (9-2-2, 6-2-1 NESCAC) took the lead in just the 15th minute with a finish from first-year Kristi Kirshe. Crystal Lewin and Hana Tomozawa added a goal apiece in the second half for the Ephs. While the Ephs still have one more home game this season, they honored their three seniors - tri-captains Hayley Cook, Abby Conyers, and Carla Nicasio - today.
Said head coach Michelyne Pinard about her senior leadership, "Only having a three-person class – that's tough. They're carrying a heavy load, and they've done it so gracefully. I think in general every person gives so much to this program. It's so nice that on Senior Day [we] get to honor them for all they've given to us.
Both teams got off to an aggressive start early. Bates had the first two shots of the game, including a beautiful opportunity from Julia Rafferty. Rafferty rocketed the ball on net from just outside the box. Eph keeper Hannah Van Wetter came off her line to catch the ball in the air in just the fourth minute.
Down the other end, the Ephs were awarded a free kick less than a yard outside the right side of the box. Mai Mitsuyama crossed the ball perfectly, and Kirshe managed to get a foot on it, but her opportunity sailed over the net.
Several Eph chances later, Kirshe's skill was yet again on display as the Ephs found the back of the net just under fifteen minutes into the game. After Bates miscleared a corner, Haley Cook sent the ball back into the box, where Kirshe was waiting with a defender on her back. Kirshe headed the ball, which bounced just beyond the outreached arms of keeper Anabel Schmelz and into the left side of the net.
The Ephs continued to push despite the early lead. With eighteen minutes on the clock, Cook looked like she might get her second assist of the game as she passed through the box to Alison Magruder near the left post. Magruder made a move towards goal and fired, but keeper Schmelz made a nice save to keep her team down just a goal.
The Ephs continued to test Schmelz. With just under eight minutes to play, Nicasio stepped up to keep the ball in the Ephs' attacking end. She sent the ball ahead to Magruder, who fired on net. Schmelz made the save on the left post. Her aggressive play gave the Bobcats some momentum as they pushed up the field. The ensuing possession resulted in a beautiful shot from Caitrin Griffin just outside the top of the box. The wind caught the ball and sent it wide.
Neither team was able to convert for the rest of the half, and the Ephs went into halftime with the one-goal lead.
The Bobcats had a nice first look at the start of the second half when Rafferty won a ball in the midfield and carried it ahead just under five minutes in. She passed inside to Kara Stefaniak, who chipped the ball at the net. The chance curved over the crossbar.
Just minutes later, the Ephs countered. Magruder sent a little through ball to Crystal Lewin in the right side of the box. Lewin fired on net, but Schmelz dove from the right post towards the center of the goal to make the save.
Magruder and Lewin connected again in the 57th minute. Magruder passed to Lewin in open space near the left sideline. She fired the ball into the box. Schmelz came out to punch the ball and accidentally knocked what appeared to be an intended cross into the net.
Nine minutes later, the Ephs stuck again. Audrey Thomas sailed the ball from a few yards inside the right sideline to Tomozawa, who was by herself running through the center of the box. Tomozawa headed the ball into the net.
Bates continued to push. Stefaniak carried the ball into the Bobcats' offensive end and passed outside to Griffin. Griffin fired on net, but Van Wetter was able to hold her position on the post to make the save.
Despite good opportunities for both teams throughout the rest of the half, neither team was able to find the back of the net. The Ephs walked off the field with the 3-0 victory.
The Ephs outshot the Bobcats 27-6 in today's matchup. Schmelz posted nine saves for the Bobcats, and Van Wetter recorded three for the Ephs.
Said Pinard after the game, "Anytime you score three goals in a conference game, you have to be pleased. Our conference is so tough, so game in and game out, you have to be ready to play. I thought we were ready today. I'm very please about that."
The Ephs return to the field on Tuesday at 3 PM. They will take on Hamilton in the final game of the regular season.
Added Pinard about Tuesday, "We need to finish strong. Hamilton is an interesting team. They tend to get a ton of shots. We need to limit those shots and make sure we take care of the results so we're home on Saturday [for the first round of the playoffs] and playing on Cole again."