Ephs fall to Middlebury 1-0 in NESCAC finals

Mai Mitsuyama '16
Mai Mitsuyama '16

MIDDLEBURY, VT - The Williams women's soccer team lost to top-seeded Middlebury (13-1-3, 8-1-1 NESCAC) 1-0 in today's NESCAC championship.  Carter Talgo scored the only goal of the game in the 39th minute.  In their first match-up this season, the Panthers also bettered the Ephs (12-3-2, 7-2-1 NESCAC) 1-0 with a 90th minute goal.  Entering this weekend, Middlebury was ranked 13th in the country; the Ephs were ranked 17th nationally. Today marks Middlebury's first championship since 2006.

The teams proved evenly matched from the beginning. After Middlebury had the first several offensive opportunities, the Ephs began to turn on their offensive game behind their first-years. They got a great look at the net from Kristi Kirshe in the 12th minute.  Kirshe put the ball perfectly on net, but Middlebury keeper Elizabeth Foody got one hand on the shot to send it over the crossbar instead.  Just minutes later, Audrey Thomas sent a through-ball to Kirshe, who was ahead with a pair of Middlebury defenders.  However, Foody came aggressively off her line and slid on top of the ball to thwart Kirshe's opportunity.

The two teams traded offensive opportunities for several minutes with neither able to capitalize until Middlebury finally found the back of the net with just over six minutes to play in the opening frame. Sarah Noble put the ball on net from 23 yards out.  Eph keeper Hannah Van Wetter made a nice save to tip the ball out of the goal, but Talgo played the rebound into the net to give the Panthers the 1-0 lead.  Neither team broke through for the remainder of the half.

Out of the break, the Ephs tried to get something going offensively and saw some of their best opportunities come around the halfway mark. With just over twenty-two minutes left to play, Carla Nicasio crossed the ball from the left side into the box, where Gabz Amos-Grosser managed to chip the ball towards the net.  Her shot flew high over the crossbar, though.  Just over two minutes later, Alison Magruder drove towards the endline and put the ball on cage, but Foody held her post and managed to make the save.

With time dwindling, the Ephs continued their aggressive play. They were awarded a great opportunity with six minutes left to play as Mai Mitsuyama took a free kick from 35 yards out.  After the Panthers tried to clear the ball, the Ephs passed it back into Thomas, alone in the center of the box.  With Foody out of position, Thomas had an open look at the net.  She headed the ball towards the cage, but the opportunity went high.

Despite continued offensive effort from the Ephs, they were unable to capitalize, and the Panthers walked off the field as NESCAC champions.

The Ephs outshot the Panthers 10-4 today.  Van Wetter turned away three shots for the Ephs, and Foody recorded four saves.

After the game, head coach Michelyne Pinard said, "I think it was two great teams playing a high level of soccer [today] – tactically, technically and competitively."

She added, "I am day in and day out proud of this team. I think they compete. We've gotten better and better each day.  I couldn't be more proud of this team – [both] individually and collectively. I think it's a great group to work with, and we're excited about the challenges to come."

The Ephs will wait to hear if they get an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.  Middlebury gets an automatic bid with the NESCAC finals win. The Selection Show is tomorrow at 1:30 PM.

Said Pinard looking ahead, "I think we're ranked in the top few in the region, and we expect to get a bid.  Today hurts – it hurts a lot, but that hurt is going to make us stronger, and we're going to be ready to go if given the chance."

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