November 16, 2009

The Middlebury College women's soccer team earned a spot in an NCAA Sectional after picking up a 2-1 win over Wheaton in an NCAA second-round contest in Vermont. The game was moved from Middlebury's grass surface (Dragone Field) to its field turf field after heavy downpours throughout the day Saturday. The Panthers advance to next weekend's NCAA Sectionals at Johns Hopkins, where they will meet the host school, while Messiah and Otterbein meet in the other match-up. Wheaton ends its season with an 18-4-2 mark.

Neutral play early on led to no shot opportunities for either team. Middlebury's first shot came when senior Lindsay Walker's (Ridgewood, N.J.) blast sailed high over the goal, but resulted in a corner kick after it was slightly deflected by a Wheaton defender. Junior Drew Smith (Silver Spring, Md.) took the corner that sailed through the box to senior Margaret Owen (Bozeman, Mont.) on the left side, where Owen chipped a low hard shot back into the box. Walker was there, finishing with a header at 15:20 to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

Wheaton came back to tie the game at 31:23, as Rosie Levy earned her fourth tally of the season with an assist going to Cassey Muse. Emily Vincunas fed the ball up the left side to Muse, who quickly touched a ball ahead to Levy. After two quick touches, Levy chipped a shot over the head of Middlebury junior keeper Lauryn Torch (Bronxville, N.Y.), who had come out to cut off the angle.

In the second half, Middlebury regained the lead just 4:35 into the second session. Junior Kirsten Lundquist (Boxford, Mass.) gained some space on the right wing at the 18 with some individual work, before launching at shot at the Wheaton net. Wheaton keeper Lindsay Leddy was able to deflect the shot up into the air, where Middlebury senior Paola Cabonargi (Staten Island, N.Y.) struck a firm header into the back of the net for the 2-1 lead.

Wheaton had a pair of quality scoring chances later in the game, as Emily Hough's shot was cleared away from the Panther goal by junior Katie Ruymann (Medford, N.J.). The Lions' best opportunity came in the 81st minute on a free kick from 30 yards away. Lyndsey McManus' original blast hit the wall, rebounding back to her feet. She quickly touched the ball before launching a rocket at the right side of the goal. Torch made a diving save to her left and was able to deflect the ball out of harm's way.

Middlebury held on in the final eight minutes and earned a spot in the NCAA Sectionals for the third time in six years. Torch ended the game with three saves to earn the win, while Leddy made a pair of stops for Wheaton. The Lions held an 8-6 advantage in shots and led by a 3-1 margin in corner kicks.

The previous day, Middlebury scored three goals in a span of 3:44 in the first half on its way to a 6-0 win over Husson in an NCAA Regional match-up on Dragone Field.

The teams played a possession game early on, with Middlebury holding a slight advantage. The Panthers turned up the pressure as the half progressed, beginning their three-goal run at the 35:23 mark. First-year player Amy Schlueter (San Francisco, Calif.) opened the scoring with her sixth of the season, finishing off a scramble in the Eagles' crease. The rookie's shot just crossed the goal line for the 1-0 lead, before it was covered by Husson keeper Jen Plourde.

The Panthers struck again just 55 seconds later, as junior Annie Rowell (Craftsbury, Vt.) found the back of the net for her team-leading 12th goal of the season. Sophomore Devin Perkins (Del Mar, Calif.) played the ball to Rowell, who trapped it and then took a few quick touches in the box before blasting a shot inside the right post.

Rowell scored again just 2:49 later, making it a 3-0 game. Lundquist fed a ball up to Rowell, who drew Plourde out of the net before sliding a low hard shot inside the post. Middlebury took a 3-0 lead into the halftime break, holding a 12-2 advantage in shots.

Middlebury wasted little time in the second half as Schlueter scored her second of the game at the 48:05 mark. Owen carried the ball down the left wing and made a nice crossing pass to Schlueter, who gathered the ball and scored with a shot to the far post.

The game remained 4-0 until the 70:55 mark when rookie Hannah Newman (Merion Station, Pa.) scored her fourth tally of the season on an impressive play. Cabonargi crossed a ball from the left wing that Newman redirected into the net with a sliding one-touch.

Cabonargi scored a goal of her own less than five minutes later, netting her fourth of the season with an assist going to Newman. After the original shot was saved, the ball slipped through Plourde's hands as Cabonargi finished for the game's final goal.

Husson had a chance late, but Shelby Bradford's sailing shot in the 82nd minute was deflected over the post by Middlebury first-year keeper Jocelyn Remmert (Pelham, N.Y.), who was on in relief of starter Lauryn Torch.

Middlebury ended the game with a 19-2 lead in shots and a 5-1 advantage in corner kicks. Torch made one save in 58 minutes, while Remmert stopped a shot in 32 minutes of play for the victors. Plourde made four stops in 82 minutes for Husson, while Rozlyn Petersen played the final eight minutes of action.
. Women's soccer record: 14-3-2
. Up next: 11/20 @ Johnson Hopkins (NCAA Sectional), if win - 11/21 - Sectional Final