WOMEN’S SOCCER FALLS IN NESCAC QUARTERS
October 29, 2012
Top-seeded Middlebury was upset at home by eighth-seeded Wesleyan (7-7-1) in a NESCAC Quarterfinal contest played on Dragone Field. The 11th-ranked Panthers fall to 12-2-1 on the season and will await a possible NCAA bid on November 5th, while the Cardinals will travel to Williams to take on the host school in the semifinals next Saturday. Middlebury held a 22-4 shots advantage in the game and led 8-1 in corner kicks, but could not find the back of the net.
Wesleyan wasted little time, taking a 1-0 lead just 3:42 into the game. Kerry Doyle served the ball on a free kick from 35 yards out on the right side. The ball bounced once in front of Panther junior goalkeeper Elizabeth Foody (Ottawa, Ont.) (1 save), before Isabel Clements was able to put a head on it and score with a shot high into the net for her second of the season.
Middlebury had a great chance in the 30th minute when a crossing pass from sophomore Claire Nishioka (Wayland, Mass.) to junior Scarlett Kirk (San Francisco, Calif.) was headed just over the crossbar. The Panthers threatened again just a minute later, but Kirk was denied from 15 yards out by a save from Jessica Tollman (45 min, 3 saves).
Trailing 1-0, Middlebury looked to tie the game in the 65th minute, when a left-footed shot from 18 yards out on the right side from Kirk hit the far post. The Panthers continued to pressure the Wesleyan net, but were unable to get a shot past Rachel Holbert (5 saves) who came in to play the second half for the Cardinals.
Wesleyan gained some breathing room at the 80:20 mark, when a high lofting shot from 18 yards out on the right side went over the head of Foody and into the far side of the net. The goal was her team-leading ninth of the season for Laura Kurash.
Middlebury looked to break-up the shutout in the final few minutes, but a rising shot from sophomore Carter Talgo (Rye, N.Y.) hit the crossbar from 25 yards out.
Middlebury clinched the top seed for the tournament with a 3-1 road win at Williams on Wednesday.
The Panthers controlled much of the opening frame with their stellar passing game. They were first on the board in the 14th minute when junior Julia Favorito (Winchester, Mass.) found the back of the net. Kirk fed the ball into the box from the left sideline before Favorito played the ball down with a header and made a quick move before sailing the ball over Eph keeper Laura Wann’s head.
The Panthers tried to add to their lead late in the first half as Favorito was by herself in the top right portion of the box. She had a good look at the net, but Wann was able to come to the near post and make a great save to keep the score at 1-0 as the teams went into the break. Middlebury outshot Williams by a tally of 6-3 in the opening frame.
Nicasio tied the game for Williams in the second half, rocketing a ball over the head of Foody and into the net from the left side
Despite the Ephs’ added push, the Panthers refused to go away. Middlebury countered just over 20 minutes into the second half. Kirk carried the ball up the right side on a breakaway and was able to score past Wann who had come out to cut off the shot.
Just minutes later, the Ephs looked like they might score again. Mai Mitsuyama dished the ball into the box off of a corner. Crystal Lewin was able to get off two shots, but Middlebury defenders blocked them both. Caitlyn Clark was able to keep the ball in the box and looked like she might get one of her own, but she collided with Foody, and Middlebury was able to clear.
In the 71st minute, the Panthers struck again. After forcing a turnover in the midfield, Favorito took over and passed ahead to Kirk in the center of the field just outside of the box. With Wann alone up ahead, Kirk lofted the ball over her head for her ninth goal of the year and second on the day.
Favorito had another good look at the net with 12 minutes on the clock, but Wann made a great save on the point-black shot from the center of the box. Down the other end just over four minutes later, the Ephs looked like they might gain a goal back when Nicasio received a through pass by herself in the middle of the box. She had a great look at the net, but Foody was able to make a beautiful kick save to keep the game at 3-1.
The Panthers outshot the Ephs 14-10 as Wann posted five saves for Williams and Foody recorded four for Middlebury.
• Women’s soccer record: 12-2-1
• Up next: TBD