WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Williams women's soccer team defeated the Lesley Lynx (18-2-1) 5-1 today in the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Tournament First Round at Williamstown, MA. With the win, the Ephs (13-3-2) move on to play Keene State, who defeated Haverford College 2-0 in today's second game. The teams will meet tomorrow at 1:30 PM on Cole Field. The Ephs scored four goals in the opening frame with a goal apiece from Carla Nicasio and Kristi Kirshe and a pair from Alison Magruder. Alexis Giusti scored the lone goal of the game for the Lynx at the start of the second half, and the Ephs finished out the scoring with a penalty kick goal from Hana Tomozawa in the 74th minute.
The Ephs gained the momentum early as Nicasio scored just thirty seconds into the game. She carried the ball up the left side of the box to the end-line. Lynx keeper Jackie Berard came out on her post to break up the play, and what looked like an attempt at a cross went into the right corner of the net instead to give the Ephs the early lead.
The Ephs did not let up on the attacking end. In the 13th minute, Maddie Swarr passed through to fellow first-year Kirshe, who split a pair of defenders and found herself with them on her back and a one-on-one look at the net. She kept the ball low, and it sailed into the goal to give the Ephs the 2-0 lead.
Lesley continued to fight despite the early deficit. They were awarded a free kick just inside the midfield line with 21:42 left to play. Emily Johnston lined up to take it and rocketed the ball perfectly into the top of the box, where Hannah Landerholm headed the ball on net. The opportunity would have fallen wide, but Eph keeper Hannah Van Wetter scooped it up and sent the Ephs back on attack.
Just under three minutes later, Magruder found the back of the net for her fifth goal of the year, and her first of two within a two-and-a-half minute span. Hannah Levin fed a beautiful ball to Magruder at the top of the box. With her back to a defender, Magruder made a move towards goal. The defender missed the take- away opportunity, and Magruder's attempt from the eighteen went into the back of the net. Then, in the 29th minute, Magruder again found herself with the ball in the box. She made a move around the defender and curved the ball perfectly over Berard's head.
The Lynx came into the second half looking to get back in the game. Morgan Zack fired at the net from several yards outside the box, but Eph keeper Tressa Palcheck, who came in at the start of the second half, made the save. However, the Lynx did not let up, and they finally found the back of the net in the 51st minute. Lindsey Bos took a corner from the right side of the field and sent it into the box, where Giusti managed to get a foot on the ball amidst traffic to tap it into the back of the net.
Down the other end, the Ephs tried to steal back some momentum with a rocket of a shot from Audrey Thomas, but Berard fell to the ground to come up with the pretty save.
Several minutes passed without either team able to break through the other's defense. However, with just over sixteen minutes to play, the Ephs were awarded a penalty kick after a Lynx defender was called for a handball in the box. Tomozawa took the kick and fired into the right part of the net just outside the outreached hands of Berard.
The Lynx responded with a flurry of shots. Landerholm fired two shots in a row for the Lynx, both of which Palcheck managed to knock down. On the second one, Marylsol Flores crashed the rebound with Palcheck on the ground, but Palcheck managed to throw herself back up to make the save.
Neither team was able to score for the rest of the half, and the Ephs walked off the field with the victory.
Berard ended the game with six saves for the Lynx. Van Wetter had two saves in the first half for the Ephs, and Palcheck added six in the second. The Ephs outshot the Lynx 17-15; eleven of Lesley's shots came in the second half.
Carla Nicasio: About her goal: "It's always a great feeling [to score early]. It was unexpected, but I think that is what we needed – to just get on the board. Especially in the NCAAs, they don't know who you are, so it's all about getting on the board first before they figure out your team."
About what she said to her team before the game: "Get on it early and to play our game. Obviously, in the NCAA tournament, we don't know who we're playing, [but] we need to continue playing our game and keep fighting throughout the whole ninety minutes and get the win, which we did."
Alison Magruder: About her pair of goals: "I think most of the credit [for the first goal] needs to go to Hannah. The ball was beautiful – it came right to me. I think it really speaks to our teammates' putting other people in dangerous positions."
About tomorrow: "I think scoring a lot of goals today was great, but we need to know that every game is a new game. We don't know [much] about either Keene or Haverford, so I think just playing our game and making sure that we're competing and playing hard [is important]."
Head Coach Michelyne Pinard: "Anytime you win an NCAA game, it's a good one. Certainly, I think scoring five goals was great. We're psyched about the win."
About the first-half goals: "We've been focusing the whole season on starting off with a bang. I think we have a lot of players with a lot of pace, and I think that's hard to manage. Going at them early has been helpful, and it was certainly helpful today."
About getting the goal in the first minute: "It changes things; goals change games, so to do that in the first thirty seconds couldn't have been more, frankly relieve[ing] because I think sometimes that first goal in the NCAA tournament can be hard to come by, [so] to get it early was great.
About Tressa Palcheck's second-half play: "We knew that they were going to be a different team in the second half and that they were going to play with a different level of intensity, and they did. Tressa absolutely kept us in the game. My only regret is that we didn't protect her a little more in front of her. I thought she did a phenomenal job making a lot of tough saves and absolutely kept us in the game.
Looking towards tomorrow: "I think we worked really hard today. I'd like to compete a little more tomorrow. I think at the end of the day we're competing, we're reading and not reacting, and that will make us a better team tomorrow."
Head coach Paul Vasconcelos: About their strong second-half start: "I honestly did not say much; the girls handled it on their own. I think they were a little disappointed with how the game started. Williams is a great program; Michelyne does a wonderful job with them. There's nothing to take away from that. They came out on fire, and we came out a little flat. I don't think the score was very indicative of the game itself. It's not like we didn't have the ball in their end or we weren't knocking the ball around. On certain days you get outclassed and outmatched, but we are very, very happy with the second half."
About the season: "At the end of the day, we're a small little DIII program in the center of Cambridge. We don't try to pretend we're something we're not. We're super proud of our program. This is the best record in our program's history, and it's a short history. We are not a big program, not a long history. For us to even be here on a day like this – regardless of this gorgeous weather – we'd still be thrilled to be here."
Alexis Giusti: About the goal: "When I play, I think we've got to get up; we want to score, we want to maintain, we want to keep our cool. It's difficult sometimes; especially when you're down. Our team is really strong, and we've got a lot of chemistry. We keep each other up and stay positive. I was just working hard. We didn't want to go out with a shutout; we wanted to work as hard as we could. I think we came back for a little bit; second half, we came out of nowhere and just ran them to the ground. It felt pretty good. It's unfortunate how it came out, but we're happy with the season."
Jackie Berard: About her strong second-half play: "At halftime we talked about how we are a team that could hold them as much as we can. Our defense worked really hard with me in order to shift when they were playing the balls outside to stop allowing them to put the balls across. I couldn't have done it without them, and I couldn't have done it without the rest of the team."