Williamstown, MA- The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) and St. Lawrence University met in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Division III Women's Soccer tournament at Cole Field on the campus of Williams College. TCNJ (12-3-4/6-3-1) cruised to a 4-1 win over St. Lawrence (13-4-2/4-3-1) and will move on to face Williams College in the second round tomorrow. The Ephs also advanced in dominant fashion, winning their first round match against Westfield State University 3-0.
TCNJ seized control of the game from the opening whistle, scoring their first goal less than four minutes into the game. A free kick from just outside of the eighteen yard box found the heads of players from both teams before settling at the feet of freshman Arielle Curtis, who blasted a shot into the net to put the Lions up 1-0. The Lions put faith in their back line to break up any developing plays from St. Lawrence, and because of this were able to commit numbers forward to keep St. Lawrence under constant pressure. The Saints were never able to link passes in their attacking half due to the swarming defense of TCNJ. Instead, the Saints opted to look for searching long balls in the direction of their strikers.
TCNJ went ahead 2-0 in the 29th minute when sophomore Elizabeth Thoresen found junior Marissa Scognamiglio, who put the ball over St. Lawrence keeper Kelsey West and into the goal. Only one minute later, St. Lawrence connected on one of their long balls, leading to their only goal of the game. A beautiful pass forward through the TCNJ back line from senior Samantha Rock went straight to the feet of sophomore Hannah Merriam, who calmly finished her head to head showdown with TCNJ keeper Jessica Weeder. The goal kept the Saints in the game going into halftime.
The beginning of the second half mirrored that of the first. TCNJ pressed off of the kickoff, pinning St. Lawrence deep in their defensive half. After an initial shot from sophomore Abigail Emmert and a save from West, the ball trickled out to the edge of the penalty box. There, the left foot of senior Brianna Cummings powered a shot into the upper right corner of the goal, leaving West no chance to make a save. Twenty minutes later, the combination of Thoresen and Scognamiglio sealed the deal for the Lions on a counter attack. Thoresen was able to slip a pass to an unmarked Scognamiglio, who barely cleared her shot over a charging West. St. Lawrence was not able to generate any dangerous scoring chances in the half, even as the sense of urgency increased. In fact, the final twenty-five minutes of the half were controlled by TCNJ, who twice came within inches of scoring a fifth goal.
TCNJ will be back on Cole Field tomorrow when they take on Williams College at 1:00 PM. Williams (17-1-1/9-1) is a week removed from winning the NESCAC tournament and is the first ranked team in the New England Region. Both teams will look to mimic their offensive performances from today when their second round match-up kicks off tomorrow.