Trinity up-ends top-seeded Ephs in a penalty shootout

Trinity up-ends top-seeded Ephs in a penalty shootout

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - To kickoff semifinal day on Cole Field in the NESCAC Women's Soccer Championships, the Bantams of Trinity College visited the home of the Ephs for the second time this season, and this November encounter bore similarities to the September one, in that overtime was required to separate the two sides.

Unlike their regular-season contest, however, overtime wasn't enough to decide a winner. Needing a penalty shootout to determine who would progress to the NESCAC Championship game on Sunday afternoon, Trinity goalkeeper Julia Pitino came up with three saves against Williams penalty takers, to buoy her team to a 3-1 penalty shootout victory after the score was all-square at 1-1 after 110 minutes of soccer.

In the 33rd minute, the Bantams opened the scoring through Tricia Pollock.

Tori Dunn collected an attempted clearance on the end line, after Danielle Sim cut out a probing pass into the Ephs' penalty area. The junior foraged into the box, and then squared the ball for Pollock in the center of the area, whose first time shot went right over the head of Eph goalkeeper Olivia Barnhill, who couldn't react quickly enough to get her hands to the strong effort.

On the other side of halftime, the Ephs found their equalizer, thanks to Kristi Kirshe who bundled in a free kick to break the Ephs' all-time scoring record.

After Audrey Thomas was cynically brought down on the edge of the penalty area by Alexa Barbaresi, who received a yellow card for her troubles, Natasha Albaneze's delivery teased the near post, where Sarah Sciré flicked a ball with her head to the opposite side of the box, where Kirshe was waiting for the simplest of tap-ins.

Neither side could produce another goal, even after the extra 20 minutes of overtime, so a penalty shootout was needed, where the Bantams quickly separated themselves from the Ephs after the first round, never looking back from there on their way to a 3-1 victory in the shootout.

Neither side created many chances in the early-goings, but the Ephs had the first good look of the game in the 18th recording the first shot of the afternoon.

An intricate passing move in the Ephs' attacking-third of the field, eventually found the feet of Kirshe, who threaded an inch-perfect pass to pick out Thomas. The pacey senior burst through the back line and fired a shot low and to the goalkeeper's left, but Pitino dove quickly and parried the senior's shot away from goal.

Fifteen minutes later, the Ephs would rue their squandered chance, as Pollock rifled the Bantams into the lead.

After the goal, the Ephs went on the hunt for an equalizer, and almost found one with a little over a minute until the halftime whistle.

Alison Lu shrugged off several challenges as she rampaged through the Bantam midfield. With options to both her right and left, she opted for Lauren Brown, who then played Kristina Alvarado through on goal. With just Pitino left to beat, the tenacious forward tried to find the bottom corner, but the keeper smothered the sophomore's shot.

After the second-half restart, the Ephs came out firing on all cylinders, and got their equalizer in less than seven minutes.

Even after the goal, they continued to pour on the pressure, almost taking the lead in the 55th minute.

Albaneze played an intricate one-two with Thomas on the edge of the area, but the junior's first touch let her down, and Pitino pushed the ball into the path of Kirshe. The Bantam keeper recovered quickly enough to close down Kirshe and body-block her eventual shot. 

Favoring their chances in overtime and penalties, the Bantams locked up shop from there, repelling all of the Ephs' chances.

At the end of the first period of overtime, Turner-Wyatt almost repeated her game-winning antics from the September encounter with the Bantams, as she rifled a shot toward the top-corner in the dying moments, that only just found the wrong side of Pitino's bar.

In the second period of overtime, the Ephs had their best opportunity of the game to send themselves into the final, when a Trinity player handled the ball in the box. The referee pointed to the spot, and Albaneze stepped up, but she couldn't convert from 12 yards.

In the final minute of overtime, the Bantams almost conjured a game-winner of their own to prevent the penalty shootout, but a combination of Barnhill and her crossbar prevented Pollock's shot from bringing a cruel end to the game.

With the penalty shootout win, Trinity (11-3-3) progresses to the NESCAC Championship game, where they will face the winner of the second semifinal between Middlebury and Amherst.

After the penalty shootout loss, Williams (15-0-2) remain undefeated, but will have to wait to discover their NCAA Tournament fate, which will be announced on Monday.

2016 Season Outlook
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