WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Eph head coach Michelyne Pinard asked the question of her team yesterday of how they would respond, and the Ephs' matchup against MIT on Sunday afternoon was exactly the kind of situation where that answer would be found out. Last year, the contest required over 108 minutes for a decisive goal from Audrey Thomas to seal the Ephs a 3-2 win, but after playing 110 minutes on Saturday, the Ephs were determined not to play any more time than was required. With the opening goal from the unlikely source of defender, Gabz Amos-Grosser, combined with Thomas' 11th tally of the season, the Ephs were able to hold off a late surge from the Engineers for a 2-1 victory.
After a slow start from both teams at the opening of the proceedings, the Ephs began to work their way into the contest after the first quarter of an hour. Thomas and fellow junior, Kristi Kirshe, both had a chance to open the scoring, with Thomas' shot from a tight angle being saved well by Engineer keeper, Lauren Ullmann, before Kirshe rattled Ullmann's crossbar less than a minute later.
However, the opening goal came not from an attacker, but a defender, as Amos-Grosser surged up the field in the 22nd minute, before playing a quick give-and-go with Thomas that created enough space for the San Franciscan to thump a shot past Ullmann from close range for her first goal in a Williams jersey.
"I thought early on we looked a little sluggish," commented Pinard after the game. "It was like we had just played a double overtime game yesterday, but we ended up getting a rhythm and starting to attack a little more fluidly. A lot of good things came out of that."
With MIT on the back foot, the Ephs immediately began to press for a second goal that almost came just six minutes after the first. A swift interchange of passes along the Eph frontline ultimately saw Hanna Kaeser play Natalie Turner-Wyatt through on the left side of the penalty area, but Ullmann did well to keep out her left-footed effort.
After that scare, the Engineer defense kicked back into gear, and managed to keep the deficit at just the one goal going into halftime.
Ten minutes after the restart, however, Thomas would foreshadow her goal, when she bursted through the Engineer back line, poking the ball around and out of the reach of Ullmann, but her touch made the angle too tight for herself to find the back of the net.
Thomas wouldn't rue her missed opportunity for long, as she was right back on the offensive less than a minute later, when she once again ghosted though the Engineer defense to run onto a beautiful through ball from Kirshe, that the Ephs' leading scorer placed over Ullmann's right shoulder and into the corner of the net for her 11th goal of the campaign.
If the Engineers hadn't come to life after the first goal, they most certainly did after the second, as they went close to finding a lifeline just moments after the Ephs doubled their lead.
Right after the kickoff from the goal, Allie Hrabchack went streaking down the right before centering to Olivia Struckman, who looked to be clean through on goal, but a great recovery run by Danielle Sim saw her block Struckman's close-range shot away from the danger area.
Ten minutes later, the Engineers ended the Ephs' run of 558 minutes without conceding a goal, as Hrabchack halved her team's deficit with a gorgeous strike from just outside the box. The Engineer first year was the beneficiary of some defensive miscommunication, as well as a poor attempt at a clearance, but she absolutely lasered her shot into the top-right corner, leaving Eph keeper, Tressa Palcheck, with little chance of keeping MIT off the scoresheet.
The Engineers built on their momentum, as they continued to press to try and find an equalizer, but the Ephs stemmed the flow of their attack in the final ten minutes, taking control of the game.
Kaeser had a pair of chances late on to add a third for the Ephs, but Ullmann rose to both challenges to deny the sophomore what would have been a deserved goal for her efforts on the day.
MIT's goal may have overshadowed what was an otherwise solid defensive performance at the back from the Ephs, as the back line responded well to Pinard's challenge from the day before to give away fewer chances to the opposition, ensuring that the Engineers would not find a late equalizer.
Pinard was quick to point out that solid defensive performance, in spite of conceding the goal, after the game on Sunday: "It's not a bad thing to break down, as long as you fix it. I think not being scored on isn't the ultimate goal; it's when you are scored on, how can you solve that and get tighter defensively. I think we will be better as a result of that [goal]."
MIT, now 7-5-2, will have to shrug off their loss quickly, as they have only one day off before their next game on the road against Wellesley on Tuesday afternoon at 3 PM EDT. After playing 200 minutes of soccer this weekend, the Ephs, now 10-0-1, only have two days of rest before they are back on the road against Skidmore on Wednesday. The Ephs travel to Saratoga Springs to pay the Thoroughbreds a visit with an evening kickoff time scheduled for 7:30 PM EDT.