CLINTON, N.Y. — No. 1 Williams College opened its 2018 campaign with a 2-1 road win over conference rival Hamilton College with sophomore Sydney Jones posting the game-winner in the 65th minute.
Williams (1-0-0) will play its home opener on Cole Field Saturday with a 12 p.m. contest against NESCAC rival Trinity. The Continentals (0-1-0) travel to Lewiston, Maine Saturday for an 11 a.m. game against conference foe Bates.
"You can't ask for much more for a first game; a win and we got better today," Ephs' head coach Michelyne Pinard said. "People worked really hard through a 97-degree heat index so our depth paid dividends. It was a good day that the team is excited to build upon."
Wednesday's contest was tied at the half, 1-1, and featured moments of both teams controlling play, although Williams did maintain possession a majority of the time. A set piece would ultimately decide the match. With 26:19 left, Eph sophomore Ilana Albert lined up a cornerkick and floated it from left to right. Eph tri-captain Sarah Hollinger muscled her way up and over a Continental defender, getting her left shoulder on the ball and re-directing the ball back toward the bottom left corner of the goal. A Continental defender was there to block the would-be score, but Jones pounced on the rebound slide-kicking the ball into an untended portion of the goal with 26:05 remaining to give the Ephs a 2-1 lead.
Hamilton produced three distinct scoring opportunities in a 55-second span late in the game to nearly tie the match. With 8:35 to go Katie McKillop lined up a free kick from 37 yards out and sent a sizzling shot toward the net, but Eph senior keeper Olivia Barnhill handled the short-hop for a save. Only 35 seconds later, from nearly the identical spot, McKillop was at it again, this time forcing Barnhill to leave her feet for a save. With 7:40 remaining Continental Cat Gambino set a beautiful pass to her left that placed Casay Hayward in alone, but her shot was off the mark and sailed wide left.
With 6:26 to go, Eph first year Maria Chapman got tangled up with Gambino who appeared poised to break in alone on Barnhill, and a free kick was awarded to Hamilton from 28 yards away. However, Rachel Cady's attempt saild over the crossbar. Chapman started and played a good amount of time in the back, where she bolstered a Williams defensive effort led by Sarah Kelly, Liz Webber and Nkem Iregbulem.
The Ephs received some excellent work over the final five minutes, trapping the Continentals in their own end with heady play from Jones, Victoria Laino, Hollinger and Georgia Lord. Ultimately, the Ephs were able to run the clock out on their hosts.
Williams took a 1-0 lead only 1 minute and 49 seconds into the season when senior Kristina Alvarado settled a loose ball about 35 yards out on the right flank and toe-tapped it to sophomore Aspen Pierson, who whirled to her left and fired a booming shots from right to left that eluded Hamilton keeper Rachel Pike and snuck into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal.
Hamilton responded by creating three cornerkick opportunities — its only three of the game — over the next 15 minutes, none resulting in a serious threat. Eph midfielder Sarah Scire made a nice play with 37 minutes left in the first half when she hustled back to run Hamilton's Kayleigh Harris off the ball when it appeared Harris may have an opportunity to find a way in on Barnhill one-on-one.
However, with 27:43 left in the half, Gambino converted a opportunity born from the foot of Katie Tenefrancia, who rocketed a ball into the Williams box. Gambino somehow settled the laser and wove to her left, ultimately beating Barnhill with a shot along the grass and under the keeper to tie the game.
Williams finished with a 12-10 advantage in shots and a 6-3 advantage in cornerkicks. Barnhill and Pike each finished the game with five saves.