The Middlebury Women’s soccer team started their season with an overtime 1-0 loss to Amherst on Saturday, Sept. 7, after losing 11 first-years to mandatory MiddView orientation trips.
Looking to build on an impressive season last year, over one-third of the team was absent from the first game of NESCAC play. After replacing the optional OINK program from years past, members of the class of 2017 were required to attend MiddView, a series of orientation trips focused on community engagement, Vermont exploration and wilderness exploration.
“Missing the opening game against Amherst was terrible,” Amanda Haik ’17 said, “We all know how big of a rival Amherst is … so to miss it was really heart-breaking. Not to mention, that was all we were thinking about on our trip, we just felt so useless and anxious.”
Day Robins ’17 also believed that the placement of MiddView was a very unfortunate scheduling error.
“Whether our presence at these [games] would have impacted the results had we been able to attend doesn’t matter, what matters is the fact that we were robbed of the opportunity to support our teams in arguably the most important game of the season.”
The challenge of MiddView forced coach Peter Kim to run pre-season in a way he had never done before, focusing more on injury prevention than outright preparing for the game against Amherst.
“There was a lot of important pre-season training that we just didn’t get to. A combination of team integration that we still have to do that we would have liked to have done already and the fact that playing against Amherst, a physical and direct team, where we could have definitely used reinforcements, definitely gave us a challenge.”
An attacking prowess was definitely missed as the first half produced only five shots total, three coming from Middlebury. Despite a strong start to the second half, the Panthers were still unable to break down Amherst’s defense. After a goalless 90 minutes, Megan Kim netted the only goal of the game seven minutes into overtime to hand the Jeffs their first victory of the season.
The Panthers finished the game with nine shots and four cornerkicks while Elizabeth Foody ’14 had four saves.
Despite the loss, Kim believed that his side was the better team.
“I feel that the loss was a little bit unjust, that a tie would have been justified because we still have to work out the kinks of our attack … but it was a disappointment for sure.”
While MiddView might have helped with first-year cohesion, Haik believes that it was detrimental to team spirit and should be changed for the future.
“It takes away from creating a cohesive team when all the [first-years] are separated at the beginning of the season … varsity athletes should not have to miss their first game,” said Haik.
The Panthers returned to action against Keene State on Wednesday, Sept. 11. NESCAC play resumes on Saturday, Sept. 14 against Connecticut College.