SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – No. 4 women's soccer (12–0–1, 7–0–1 in the NESCAC) edged Springfield 1-0 this afternoon on a 71st-minute goal by forward Syd Jones '21.
Springfield entered the game averaging over three goals scored per game and controlled the pace of play in the first half. The Pride forced an early save from Eph goalkeeper Olivia Barnhill '19, when forward Mikaela Coady put a shot on net.
Williams had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 19th minute, when a Springfield foul conceded a penalty kick. Pride goalie Ciara Boucher, however, made a stop on tri-captain Evan Gancedo '18.
The pace slowed in the latter part of the half, however, and neither team recorded a shot for in the final 26:30. At halftime, the game was still scoreless, and Springfield held a 5-1 advantage in shots.
The Ephs threatened again in the 51st minute, when forward Sarah Scire '20 got behind the Pride defenders. Boucher made another crucial save to keep the game level.
In the 57th minute, Springfield went on the attack. Coady dribbled along the right edge of the penalty area and set up forward Kim Quiles with a chance, but Quiles' shot went into the side netting.
Jones provided the breakthrough for Williams in the 71st minute. Center back Liz Webber '20 sent a long ball forward, and Jones knocked it on to get past the back line. She beat Boucher to net her second goal of the season, putting the Ephs up 1-0.
Springfield had its best chance of the game with 5:57 left. A shot by midfielder Gabrielle Fernandes was headed for goal, but Barnhill tipped the ball over the crossbar.
Despite a late attacking surge from the Pride, the Ephs held on for a 1-0 win. Springfield finished the game with a 7-5 advantage in shots, but Barnhill made three saves to keep the home side off the scoreboard. Boucher had two critical saves for the Pride.
Today's win was the third straight game in which Williams prevailed by a 1-0 scoreline. Head coach Michelyne Pinard acknowledged that the Ephs have seen fewer scoring opportunities as opposing defenses have improved late in the season.
"As you go from September to October, teams get more organized defensively," Pinard said. "At the moment, we're having to finish on fewer chances. It makes sense to me that we're not able to get behind teams as much as we did earlier in the season, but we're continuing to evolve offensively."
For the second game this weekend, the Ephs faced a shot deficit in the first half.
"Springfield is an incredible team and had a great first half," Pinard said. "We struggled to figure out the surface; it was a turf surface that was quite fast and pretty different from what we are used to.
"Once we figured out who was available in different situations, we were able to get behind. We were really pressing in our attacking third in the second half."
Moving forward, Pinard has identified two objectives that will allow the team to create more chances early in games.
"What we need to do is solve the space earlier in the game," she said. "[Every team] gives us something, and we need to figure out what that is early on. If we can do that, we can break teams down in the first half. The other [point] is that we need to take care of our passes more. We're giving the ball away when we shouldn't be. If we can solve those two things, we can be much more effective and more dangerous.
Williams returns to Cole Field next Saturday to host Tufts at 12:30 p.m.
"We're continuing to work on being more creative offensively and more disciplined defensively," Pinard said. "We're excited to play Tufts, and we know it's going to be a great challenge."