HADLEY, Mass. - Top-seeded Middlebury continues its journey towards its first conference crown since 2006 when it hosts the remaining rounds of the 2013 NESCAC Women's Soccer Championship this weekend at Dragone Field. The Panthers earned the right to host the final four for the first time since 2004 when they defeated eighth-seeded Colby, 3-1, on Saturday.
Saturday's slate of games gets underway at 11 a.m. when Middlebury takes on sixth-seeded Tufts. Defending champion and second-seeded Williams and fourth-seeded Trinity square off at 1:30 p.m. Advancing teams will battle for the NESCAC championship on Sunday at noon with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament at stake.
Middlebury (11-1-3, 8-1-1 NESCAC) carries a 14-game unbeaten streak into the semifinals after its quarterfinal win over Colby. Senior forward Scarlett Kirk (San Francisco, Calif.) scored two of her team-high 11 goals in the contest, while senior midfielder Julia Favorito (Winchester, Mass.) added her sixth assist of the season. The Panthers are second in the conference in scoring, averaging 2.13 goals per game, and boast the top defense, which allows just 0.45 goals per game. Middlebury has not allowed more than one goal in a game this season to go along with eight shutouts. Senior goalkeeper Elizabeth Foody (Ottawa, Ontario) has posted a 0.52 goals against average and a .860 save percentage.
The Panthers will face sixth-seeded Tufts (9-6-0, 5-5-0 NESCAC), which is searching for its first conference title since 2002 and second overall. The Jumbos earned a spot in the semifinals when they knocked off No. 3 Bowdoin, 2-1. Sophomore forward Allie Weiller (Katonah, N.Y.) opened the scoring in the 61st minute before junior forward Caitlin Brandman (Portola Valley, Calif.) netted the game-winning goal in the 70th minute to send Tufts into its first semifinal contest since 2009. Senior forward Anya Kaufmann (Evergreen, Colo.) leads the Jumbos with 17 points on eight goals and one assist, while senior goalkeeper Kristin Wright (Austin, Texas) has posted a 1.18 goals against average and four shutouts. Tufts looks to become just the second No. 6 seed to advance to the NESCAC Final. Williams accomplished the feat in 2004.
Middlebury defeated the Jumbos in the only NESCAC Championship meeting between the programs in the 2000 final, 2-0. In their regular season meeting on October 5, Middlebury came away with a 2-1 win when the game-winning goal was scored in the 89th minute.
Saturday's second semifinal features second-seeded Williams (11-2-2, 7-2-1 NESCAC) and fourth-seeded Trinity (12-3-0, 7-3-0). This will be the first postseason match-up between the squads, as the Ephs look for their conference-best seventh league title and the Bantams are in search of their first.
Williams raced out to a quick two-goal lead courtesy of goals by senior midfielder Carla Nicasio (Rowayton, Conn.) and sophomore midfielder Crystal Lewin (Irvine, Calif.) en route to a 3-1 victory against Wesleyan in the quarterfinals. First-year midfielder Katie Wardlaw (San Marino, Calif.) has netted a team-high five goals with junior forward Alison Magruder (St. Louis, Mo.), first-year forward Kristi Kirshe (Franklin, Mass.) and first-year midfielder Audrey Thomas (Bellevue, Wash.) scoring four goals apiece. Defensively, the Ephs have one of the top goalkeepers in the conference in junior Hannah Van Wetter (Lakewood, Colo.), who has a league-best 0.29 goals against average and .913 save percentage.
Trinity advanced to its first NESCAC semifinal in eight playoff appearances with a 2-1 win over Amherst last Saturday. Junior forward Karyn Barrett (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) evened the score at 1-1 in the 38th minute and assisted the eventual game-winning goal scored by sophomore forward Abbey Lake (Westport, Conn.) in the 49th minute. The victory not only gave the Bantams their first NESCAC post-season win, but set a new program record for wins in a season at 12. Lake paces Trinity with 19 points on eight goals and three assists. Four of junior midfielder Elisa Dolan's (Bethesda, Md.) five goals have been of the game-winning variety, while Barrett and first-year forward Andi Nicholson (Grafton, Mass.) have chipped in four markers each. Sophomore Monica DiFiori (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) has played almost the entire season in goal, having posted a 0.95 goals against average and a .736 save percentage.
The Bantams prevailed in the regular season meeting between the squads, 2-0, on September 14. Since the loss in Hartford the Ephs went 8 games wihtout a loss (7-0-1) before losing in the 90th minute at Middlebury 1-0.
The Ephs will enter the game riding a 3-game win streak. In 15 games this fall the Ephs have held the oppositon scoreless 9 times.
|Quarterfinals - Saturday, November 2|
|Semifinals - Saturday, November 9|
|hosted by Middlebury
#6 Tufts at #1 Middlebury - 11 a.m.
#2 Williams vs. #4 Trinity - 1:30 p.m.
|Championship - Sunday, November 10|
|hosted by Middlebury
Semifinal Winners - Noon