LEWISTON, ME — On all fronts, it has to be considered a pretty good eight days for the Ephs. First, they collected a pair of NESCAC victories last Saturday and Sunday, away against Tufts and then at home against bitter rivals Middlebury on Senior Day. Then, midweek, they had the good fortune of NESCAC hosting rights landing in their lap, as Amherst fell to Connecticut College on Wednesday afternoon in New London, leaving the door wide open for them to summit the NESCAC table. With two games left in the regular season, all Williams would need to ensure home-field advantage throughout the NESCAC tournament was a win and a draw. They snagged that win, which also happened to be their ninth in-a-row, Saturday afternoon, as they traveled to Bates and took care of business with a solid 3-0 performance.
It was a tense first 45 minutes, as the Ephs looked for a way to open up the scoring. That breakthrough finally came in the dying minutes before the half-time whistle, as senior Alex McInturff put a ball into the back of the Bobcats' net by way of a corner taken by freshman Jacqueline Simeone. McInturff's fourth goal of the season tied the freshman pair of Hanna Kaeser and Natasha Albaneze at third most for the Ephs behind sophomore striking duo Audrey Thomas and Kristi Kirshe, who share the lead with ten goals apiece.
The Ephs' other two goals came on the opposite side of halftime, as Alison Magruder, the second senior goal-scorer of the day, doubled the Ephs' lead with a smooth finish after a smart pass from Thomas. After an off-season where Magruder was moved from the Eph front line, where she led the team in goals last year, to the Eph back line, where she has proven to be equally influential, she finally got off the mark for the season with the first goal of her senior season.
The scoring would later be ended by sophomore Maddie Swarr, as she notched her third goal of the season to wrap up the win for the Ephs. Swarr, typical of her industrious work rate all season, got into the Bobcats penalty area and latched onto a ball from senior Louisa Costa sending an effort on goal that was always destined to bulge the back of the Bobcat net.
After the game, Eph head coach Michelyne Pinard commented on the great team effort as the postseason approaches: "Getting a win in Maine is never easy, so we are happy with the result and the effort. It was a great team win with so many people helping make it happen, getting goals from lots of different people and great defensive play from everyone. We are looking to take this momentum into our final game on Tuesday against a very good Hamilton team."
With one game left in the season, Bates (7-7, NESCAC 3-6) will be desperate for a win, as they look to hold on to the NESCAC tournament place. They are currently level with Hamilton with three wins, tied for the eighth and final NESCAC tournament position, and the Bobcats hold the tiebreaker against the Continentals. The Bobcats are hoping, however, that the tiebreaker will be unnecessary, as they look to grab a win in Waterville against in-state rival Colby on the last day of the regular season on Wednesday, with kickoff scheduled for 3 PM EDT.
With the events of the past week behind them, the Ephs (13-1, NESCAC 8-1) find themselves one win away from a one-loss regular season and a potential regular-season finish at the peak of the NESCAC table, going into the NESCAC tournament as the one seed. The only obstacle left in their path is Hamilton, as the Ephs travel to Clinton, NY on Tuesday afternoon, looking for their 10th win in-a-row. With a win or a draw, the Ephs will have home-field advantage throughout the NESCAC tournament.
Kickoff on Tuesday is set for 3:30 PM EDT.