WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – The midfield produced two second-half goals on Saturday as women's soccer took a 2-0 Senior Day victory over Bates on Cole Field.
Midfielders Victoria Laino '21 and Emma Lynch '23 each scored spectacular long-range goals off the woodwork, pulling No. 25 Williams (8–3–1/6–2–0 in the NESCAC) past Bates (2–9–1/0–7–0 in the NESCAC) in the final regular season home game for seven Eph seniors: goalkeeper Whitney Lincoln '20, defender Sarah Kelly '20, tri-captain defender Liz Webber '20, tri-captain midfielder Erika Jung '20, tri-captain midfielder Sarah Scire '20, defender Nkem Iregbulem '20 and forward Alison Lu '20.
The leadership of this senior class, which won the 2017 and 2018 NCAA titles and the 2017 NESCAC title, has helped the team through an injury crisis that made the start of this season challenging, said head coach Michelyne Pinard.
"It's been a challenge of a season injury-wise. Last year, I didn't think it could get any worse, and it's gotten worse," she said. "The steadiness of the senior class, and the inclusiveness – they've really empowered the younger players because we've really had to lean on all 27 people, and they've really done a good job leading that and believing in everyone. And I think that's showing."
Senior Day, Pinard added, provided a special opportunity to recognize the seniors not only for achieving results but also for passing along the program's values.
"Senior Day is always a lot of fun because it's just an opportunity to thank the seniors for all they've given," she said. "I think the biggest thanks of all can be not only getting a result but showing the seniors they've passed the baton for the Williams women's soccer values. I think we've done that, and it's good to see."
The first half finished scoreless, although Williams outshot Bates 11-6. Kelly came close to scoring for Williams in the 28th minute, but her shot from just outside the box flashed a few inches wide of the far post.
While the Ephs controlled possession early on, the Bobcats started to move into Eph territory late in the half. Bates midfielder Elizabeth Patrick forced two saves out of Williams goalkeeper Chelsea Taylor '22 on long-distance attempts.
The Bobcats had their best chance on a 31st-minute counterattack. Patrick sent in a cross from the right side, but the ball arrived a bit too far in front of forward Courtney Gray, who had run into space in the box.
With Bates playing a deep back line, Williams players started to find space to shoot from distance.
Jung nearly gave the Ephs the lead in the 51st minute. Jaquelin Nordhoff '23 played the ball into Rain Condie '22 in the box, and Condie held the ball up before laying it off the Jung. Jung's shot, however, bounced off the far post and out.
Three minutes later, Laino put Williams in front with a screamer from well outside the box. Jung picked out Laino in space, and Laino drilled a shot that sailed over the goalkeeper's fingertips and into the net off the crossbar.
In the 86th minute, Lynch doubled the Eph lead with a strike of her own. After receiving a pass from Nordhoff, she turned and thundered a shot off the left post and in.
Laino's goal was her team-leading seventh of the season, and Lynch is now tied with Mikayla Kappes '21, another midfielder, with 3 goals on the year. Pinard said that having been able to rely on the midfield for the team's scoring output has been key to the team's success.
"We're asking a lot of those midfielders who are a bit of our attacking engine," she said. "We wouldn't be able to get by without them."
"Victoria has just been such a rock for us on both sides of the ball," Pinard added. "I'm really impressed with her leadership and her work rate, pulling us along in tough moments and helping us get results."
Shots finished 27-7 in Williams' favor. Bates goalkeeper Elizabeth Crawford made 6 saves in the contest. Taylor made 4 saves in the first half, while substitute Leyla Kamshad '23 made 1 save after taking over at the start of the second half.
Williams travels to Brunswick, Maine, to play Bowdoin (4–6–1/1–5–1 in the NESCAC) next Saturday at noon.