Women's Soccer Looks To Repeat As NESCAC Champions-Watch Live!
November 1, 2007
Middlebury will look to repeat as NESCAC Champions as they travel to Williams where the Ephs host the final rounds of the 2007 NESCAC Women's Soccer Championship at Cole Field in Williamstown, Mass. Top-seeded Williams will face sixth-seeded and defending NESCAC champion Middlebury in the first semifinal on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 11:00 a.m. and will be followed shortly after with second-seeded Tufts taking on fourth-seeded Bowdoin at 1:30 p.m. The 2007 NESCAC Women's Soccer Championship concludes on Sunday, Nov. 4, with the final match getting underway at 12:00 p.m.
Top-seeded Williams (14-0-0, 9-0-0 NESCAC) secured the number-one seed in this year's championship on Oct. 20 with a 2-0 win over Tufts and wrapped up a perfect regular season this past Saturday with a 2-1 victory over NESCAC rival Amherst. The number-one seed guaranteed the Ephs an appearance in the semifinals for the first time since 2004 after bowing out in the first round of the tournament in each of the last two years. Williams has been getting it done at both ends of the field this fall, as the Ephs enter the weekend second in the NESCAC in scoring by averaging 2.86 goals per game, well above their 2006 average of 2.21, while the defense has been denying opponents by allowing roughly three shots per game and giving up only three goals through 14 outings. Heading up the Eph attack has been junior forward Gabrielle Woodson (Plano, Texas) and sophomore defender Brianna Wolfson (Brookville, N.Y.). Starting all 14 games this season, the duo has combined to score nearly half of Williams' 40 goals and 10 of its 14 game-winners. Woodson leads the Ephs with 11 goals and four assists for 26 points, an average of 1.86 points per game to rank second among all conference players, and Wolfson follows Woodson on the Williams stat sheet with seven goals and eight assists for 22 points. While Woodson and Wolfson have played a major role up front, sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Sinnenberg (Westfield, N.J.) has had an impressive season behind a stellar Williams defensive corps. Sinnenberg leads the NESCAC in multiple statistical categories, including a league-low goals against average of 0.16 along with a .953 save percentage.
The conference's top defense will be put to the test when sixth-seeded Middlebury (9-4-2, 4-4-1 NESCAC) brings the league's top offense to Williamstown. The Panthers sit in front of the Ephs in goals scored this season, averaging 2.93 over 15 outings. The defending NESCAC Women's Soccer Champions come into Saturday's showdown having won four of their last six games, including a 1-0 first round victory at Amherst. During their two most recent setbacks, however, the Panthers have been held scoreless, as Williams won the lone regular season meeting by a 4-0 score on Oct. 13 in Middlebury, Vt., and Trinity claimed a 1-0 win in the season finale for Middlebury on Oct. 27. Junior forward Ashley Pfaff (Charlotte, Vt.) and sophomore forward Nora Tomlinson-Weintraub (Burlingame, Calif.) have paced a balanced offense for the Panthers this fall, as 17 different players have tallied a goal. Pfaff has seven goals and four assists for a team-leading 18 points, while Tomlinson-Weintraub is second with six goals and three assists for 15 points. The playoff series between Middlebury and Williams is deadlocked at 1-1-2, as three of the four previous matches have seen overtime. Middlebury's lone win over Williams came during the inaugural 2000 championship in a 1-0 double-overtime victory in the semifinals. The Ephs' only tournament victory against the Panthers occurred in the first round of the 2002 championship, 3-0. In the two ties, Williams has advanced both times via penalty kicks, claiming the 2004 NESCAC championship by a 3-1 margin after the two teams settled for a 1-1 tie in the title game.
Although second-seeded Tufts (12-3-0, 7-2-0 NESCAC) fell short of hosting the NESCAC championship for the second time in three years with the loss to Williams on Oct. 20, the Jumbos still managed to finish the regular season second among conference teams for the second-straight season. Tufts got off to a hot start this fall, going 9-1 over its first 10 games and matching the second-longest winning streak in program history with eight consecutive victories before falling to Trinity on Oct. 13. After closing out the regular season last Saturday with a 3-2 win at Connecticut College, the Jumbos turned around and faced the Camels again on Sunday in the first round, advancing to the semifinals with a 6-0 victory. Tufts' offense, which ranks third in the NESCAC overall this season, has had a strong 2007 campaign, scoring nearly three goals per game during its 12 victories. Providing most of the offensive firepower for the Jumbos this season has been Cara Cadigan (Nahant, Mass.), as the sophomore forward is in the midst of a stellar first season for Tufts after missing 2006 due to injury. Cadigan's 16 tallies through 15 games not only lead the NESCAC but also set a new Tufts record for goals in a season, snapping the previous record of 15 established in 1981. Of her 16 goals, 10 have proven to be the game-winner this year. Cadigan hopes to help Tufts make a fourth appearance in the final match, as the Jumbos only title came in 2002.
Looking to earn its first-ever trip to the championship game will be fourth-seeded Bowdoin (12-3-0, 6-3-0 NESCAC). After missing the semifinals last year for the first time in tournament history, the Polar Bears return this fall thanks to a 2-0 first round victory over Trinity. Bowdoin enters Saturday's semifinals having won eight of its last nine outings, with six victories coming via shutout. The lone setback came at the hands of Tufts on Oct. 6, as the Jumbos earned a 4-1 victory over the Polar Bears in Medford, Mass. This season, the Bowdoin offense ranks third overall in the conference, scoring an average 2.80 goals per game to keep pace with Middlebury and Williams. Senior forward Ann Zeigler (Washington, D.C.) is having her own record-setting year for the Polar Bears, as she recently became the program's all-time leading scorer and is just three goals shy of the team mark for career goals. Zeigler, who has led Bowdoin in scoring during each of her four seasons in Brunswick, ranks second among all league players in points with 27 on seven goals and 13 assists through 15 starts. The semifinal match between Bowdoin and Tufts will be only the second in tournament history, as the Jumbos took the first meeting between the two in the 2000 semifinals by a 3-1 score.