MIDDLEBURY, VT – The last two times these two teams met, the winner of the first game was the NESCAC tournament champion and earned an automatic NCAA tournament bid. The winner of the second game was the NCAA national champion. The latter saw the Ephs win their third national championship in four years.
The Ephs entered the contest with Middlebury sitting in 3rd place with 18 points and a 6-3 NESCAC record. Middlebury entered the contest as the 10th ranked team in the country and 6-1-2 with 20 points which is tops in the NESCAC.
Williams hasn't won in Middlebury since 2009 and Middlebury hasn't lost at home since September 28th, 2017 and are currently riding a 20-game home unbeaten streak. Middlebury entered the contest 5-0-2 at home and the Ephs entered 1-3-1 on the road with their last win October 5th at Colby.
The first ten minutes saw the teams feeling each other out until Junior forward Georgia Lord was fouled from 25-yards away from the goal. Junior midfielder Victoria Laino skied the freekick over the frame.
The Ephs played with fire in the 15th minute when goalkeeper Chelsea Taylor played a ball to defender Maria Chapman in their own box and Chapman was stripped by Middlebury forward Olivia Miller. A great tackle from senior center back Nkem Iregbulem prevented a golden opportunity for the Panthers.
In the 26th minute the Ephs had another chance. Victoria Laino played a ball into the box that was punched out by Middlebury keeper Ursula Alwang that landed on the left foot of Eph first-year Jaquelin Nordoff who hit it right to Alwang for the Ephs first shot on frame.
The first 45 minutes concluded with the sides even at 0-0. The Ephs collected seven shots with two on target, the Panthers collected three shots with one on target. 11 total fouls through the intense first half, the Ephs had six and the Panthers had five.
The Panthers began the second half with two corner kicks in the first three minutes but were unable to generate a legitimate chance on both. Turnovers plagued the Ephs through the first five minutes of the half, but the teams remained scoreless.
Georgia Lord possessed the Ephs first real chance of the second half, in the 62nd minute she took a shot off of her left foot in front of a busy goal but Ursula Alwang was able to track the ball through the traffic in the box and make the stop.
Victoria Laino had a chance to put the Ephs on the board in the 75th minute but her shot went wide to the left side of Alwang to keep the teams at a stalemate.
90 minutes couldn't settle these two juggernauts, one way or another the game would be decided by overtime. The Ephs outshot Middlebury 12-7 throughout regulation. The Ephs had five on frame, the Panthers had three. The lone booking in regulation belonged to Georgia Lord. The teams combined for 22 fouls throughout regulation, the Ephs had 12.
The defensive battle concluded scoreless. The Ephs finished with 15 shots and the Panthers finished with 12 shots.
In her final regular season game at Williams, Head Coach Michelyne Pinard talked about her teams effort this afternoon: "i thought it was an incredible physical and competitive effort today. I'm very proud."
The Ephs will finish 3rd in the NESCAC to finish the regular season with a 6-3-1 record, they are waiting to find out who they host in the Quarterfinal at Cole Field this Saturday.
When asked about the playoffs Pinard said, "As for playoffs, I think this team is capable of going on quite a run. We need to figure out how to get on the board and if we do, watch out. Mostly though, for my last postseason, I just want to watch them compete like they did today."