WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Williams women's soccer team defeated the Keene St. Owls (18-5-1) 3-0 today on Cole Field in the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Tournament Second Round at Williamstown, MA. Carla Nicasio and Alison Magruder scored a goal apiece in the opening frame. First-year Audrey Thomas added the third goal in the second half. With the win, the Ephs (14-3-2) advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Their opponent, time and place have yet to be determined.
The Ephs got on the board early with a beautiful finish from captain Nicasio. Alex McInturf was near the center of the field a few yards outside the box. She sent a perfect pass to Nicasio, who tapped the ball once to beat the defender and placed the ball beautifully into the bottom right corner of the net. The goal was her third of the year and second in the NCAA tournament. She opened yesterday's game with an unassisted goal just thirty seconds into the first half.
The Owls tried to respond just minutes later as Jessica Berthiaume made a pretty move at the top right corner of the box and passed inside to Brittany Tolla. Tolla tried to pass the ball to herself in the middle of the box, but the Eph defense was able to break up the play before she could get a shot off.
The Ephs continued to push on the attacking end. With twelve minutes to play, Alison Magruder picked up a through ball and carried it beautifully into the box. She crossed it into the center just off the goal line, but Owl keeper Victoria Crenson managed to break up the play before Hana Tomozawa was able to get there for the Ephs.
However, Magruder did not let up, and she scored with 7:10 left in the first half. Lilly Wellenbach cleared the ball from the Ephs' defensive end. It went off of a defender's foot in the midfield and flew ahead to Magruder, who was ahead by herself for the Ephs. With the defender on her back, she carried the ball to the middle of the box near the left post and made a move around the goalie before putting the ball in the back of the net. The goal was her seventh of the year and third of the NCAA tournament. The assist was Wellenbach's second of the year.
Neither team broke through in the remaining minutes, and the Ephs went into the break leading 2-0. The Ephs outshot the Owls 8-3 in the opening frame.
The Owls came out of the break gunning for a goal. Four minutes into the second half, the Owls were awarded a free kick just outside the right side of the box. Kristen Huckins flew the kick inside to Beverly Cole, who managed to get a piece of the ball, but her opportunity was just wide.
The Ephs, however, struck first in the second half in the 55th minute. Nicasio carried into the box and stopped just before the end-line. She crossed the ball from the left post into the center, where Thomas chipped the ball into the net.
Keene refused to give up and had its best look of the game after play restarted. Barthiaume beat two defenders just inside the box and had an open path to goal. She fired on net, but Eph keeper Hannah Van Wetter made a stellar save to knock the ball down. Van Wetter quickly jumped on the ball to thwart any rebound opportunities.
The Owls continued to push, but Van Wetter stepped up to the challenge. Shannon Summers and Tolla had a pretty give-and-go that resulted in an open shot for Summers. Van Wetter confidently held her post and made the save to keep the Ephs up 3-0.
The Ephs also continued to push on the attacking end. With thirteen minutes to play, Katie Wardlaw found herself alone at the top of the box. Her shot curved perfectly on net, but Keene keeper Danielle Warhall made a fantastic diving save and changed the path with her outstretched hand. Neither team broke through the other's defense for the rest of the half.
The Ephs outshot Keene 12-10 in today's match. Van Wetter turned away four shots for the Ephs. Crenson saved three shots for the Owls, while Warhall recorded four saves on five opportunities. Kristen Huckins was awarded a yellow card for the Owls in the 59th minute.
Head Coach Michelyne Pinard: About the early start: "We knew Keene State was going to fly at us. They're a momentum team, and if you let them get into the game, they're just a handful. Getting on the board early was huge because they're such a momentum team, and they're always dangerous. I thought we took a little steam out of their sail, but as always, they are fighters, and they fought for ninety minutes."
About Van Wetter's play: "Hannah has just been stellar all year. I think she is one of the most underrated keepers in the country because she comes up big in the big moments and in the little moments. I think she is a big reason why teams don't get in behind us. She's our organizer. She's a gamer; she comes up big when she needs to, and she certainly did that today."
About the Sweet Sixteen game: "I think we're really hitting our stride. I think we're playing the way we're capable of playing, and I think everyone's competing at their highest of levels. Heading into that game, in our opinion, it doesn't matter who we play. We're just excited to still be together, and we're working hard to earn one more day, one more week, every week."
Hannah Van Wetter: About her play and staying focused entering the tournament: "We've been playing really, really well. I think most of the credit has to go to my defense. They allow something like four shots a game, so they're making me look good this year. I think being on Cole was something really special for us, knowing that this was our last weekend at home. Today we just wanted to protect it and come out with a win. It's always nice to get a shutout; it's nice to not let them into our goal at all."
About the Sweet Sixteen: "It's big. It's special to be there. We haven't been there since my freshman year. Our ultimate goal is getting to Texas, so we're two more games away from that. We just have to take care of them."
Carla Nicasio: About her offensive play: "This is a really exciting tournament. Just getting up for this game is what we live for. We're fighting for our lives here. Getting us going from the beginning was my goal."
About the team's mindset entering the Sweet Sixteen: "I think the same mindset we had here: We're not taking any chances, we're not assuming anything, and we're going hard at anything that's coming at us."