No. 24 women's soccer falls to No. 9 Middlebury in NESCAC semis

No. 24 women's soccer falls to No. 9 Middlebury in NESCAC semis

MEDFORD, Mass. – Middlebury scored once in each half today to advance over Williams to the NESCAC finals.

The No. 9 Panthers topped the No. 24 Ephs 2-0 in a defensive battle. While Williams created more opportunities, Middlebury took the advantage on a 21st-minute goal from Gretchen McGrath and doubled its lead on a 69th-minute header by Isabelle Hartnett. The teams had finished in a scoreless tie Oct. 29 after two extra time periods.

"Tough one today," head coach Michelyne Pinard said after the game. "We created a handful of chances and just couldn't convert. We started the game strong, but couldn't hang onto the momentum."

Midway through the first half, Middlebury co-captain midfielder Olivia Miller chipped a pass through to McGrath. Williams goalkeeper Chelsea Taylor '22 rushed out to meet McGrath, but the Middlebury junior neatly converted to give the Panthers the lead.

The Ephs had a chance in the 38th minute, when Rain Condie '22 knocked a through ball to Aspen Pierson '21, but Pierson's low shot was saved by Panther goalkeeper Eva Shaw.

Middlebury finished the half with a 1-0 lead, although Williams finished the half with a 9-5 edge in shots.

The Panthers appeared to score in the 48th minute, but the goal was waved off for a Middlebury foul in the box. 

In the 69th minute, however, the Panthers extended their advantage. Middlebury midfielder Eliza Robinson sent in a cross from the left corner flag, and Harnett met the ball at the near post and headed into the net.

Williams threatened late and hit the post twice but did not score. In the 73rd minute, Claire Tolliver '23 drilled a hard shot in from the left side of the box, but Shaw made the save.

Liz Girvan '22 also hit the post in the 82nd minute after getting onto the end of a free kick at the far corner.

The final whistle blew with Middlebury up 2-0. Williams outshot its opponent 15-8, but Shaw saved all six of the Ephs' shots on goal. Taylor saved two of the Panthers' four shots on goal. 

The Ephs will wait to hear their fate for the NCAA tournament. The selection show is Monday at 1 p.m.

"Our fingers are crossed in hopes of a bid," Pinard said.

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