Women’s Soccer Strikes Again, Clips Bantams, Detains Hamilton

Julia+Favorito+%E2%80%9914+led+to+the+Panthers+to+victory+against+Trinity+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+12+with+a+goal+and+assist.+She+has+11+points+this+year.+%28Paul+Gerard%29
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Women’s Soccer Strikes Again, Clips Bantams, Detains Hamilton

Julia Favorito ’14 led to the Panthers to victory against Trinity on Saturday, Oct. 12 with a goal and assist. She has 11 points this year. (Paul Gerard)

Julia Favorito ’14 led to the Panthers to victory against Trinity on Saturday, Oct. 12 with a goal and assist. She has 11 points this year. (Paul Gerard)

Julia Favorito ’14 led to the Panthers to victory against Trinity on Saturday, Oct. 12 with a goal and assist. She has 11 points this year. (Paul Gerard)

Julia Favorito ’14 led to the Panthers to victory against Trinity on Saturday, Oct. 12 with a goal and assist. She has 11 points this year. (Paul Gerard)

By Alex Morris

The Middlebury women’s soccer team established its place at the top of the NESCAC with a 2-0 victory over Trinity on Saturday, Oct. 12 and a 1-0 overtime win against Hamilton on Sunday, Oct. 13.

The Panthers went into the double header with cautious optimism.

“Going into the weekend we were tied for first place in the NESCAC with Trinity, and we knew that both games were really important and neither team would be easy to beat,“ co-captain Moria Sloan ’15 said.

Saturday’s game started as an unsettled affair with neither team able to string passes together. The Panthers soon grew into the game, dominating the majority of forward possession and keeping good pressure when Trinity had the ball.

Middlebury’s dominance was rewarded in the 18th minute when Julia Favorito ’14 scored the first goal of the game. Favorito found herself with time and space to take a touch before unleashing a 25-yard screamer over Bantam keeper Monica DiFoiri’s head. After the first goal, as neither team was able to string together enough possession for a while.

Trinity had a good chance to equalize after turning a Panthers defender inside the box, but could only watch as the ball bounced off the crossbar. However, Middlebury continued to run the show after powerful attempts on goal from Hannah Robinson ’16 and Jamie Soroka ’16, who managed to weave through three defenders and get off a shot despite losing her balance.

The Panthers kept the pressure on Trinity at the start of the second half with instant rewards. Just two minutes in, after good build-up around the box, Sloan  launched a rocket into the top right corner, leaving DiFiori helpless.

Middlebury grew in confidence after the second goal, refusing to sit back but rather continuing to attack. The Panthers frustrated Trinity with clean and precise passing, limiting the Bantams to just two shots on goal in the second half.

Scarlett Kirk ’14, the NESCAC’s leading scorer, was denied a goal in the final moments of the game after a last ditch tackle from a defender sent the ball out for a corner.

After such dramatic victories, a comfortable win soothed some Panther nerves.

“While pulling out those tough wins is a crucial strength for a team to have, I believe our focus will be on finding our rhythm up top so that we are able to confidently to put away games early rather than waiting until the last few moments of the game to score,” Favorito said.

The young team showed discipline to hang on for the win against one of its biggest competitors in the NESCAC.

“I was impressed by the entire team’s performance,” head coach Peter Kim said. “They defended extremely well, and moved the ball sharply all over the field. The goals were pure class. Both Favorito and Sloan spend extra time perfecting different types of shots, and it was nice to see them reward themselves for their hard work.”

The Panthers weren’t able to replicate such a comfortable win on Sunday, as Hamilton forced them into overtime.

Kirk had instant opportunity to put the Panthers ahead after beating the last defender, but after mistiming her run, Continentals goalie Liza Gergenti made up for the mistake with a crucial tackle to divert the ball away.

The game proceeded with a good pace, as Middlebury looked to open up space on the field by constantly reserving the ball and angling passes. Hamilton meanwhile predominantly relied on long balls, using a resilient defense as a source of attack.

In the 20th minute, Hamilton nearly scored against the run of play after confusion in the Middlebury box from a poor clearance allowed Kendall Daly to latch onto a loose ball. But Panther keeper Kate Reinmuth ’17 produced strong hands.

Minutes later, Sarah Noble ’14 nearly converted a corner kick from Ali Omsberg ’15, but the shot went over the net. The last real chance of the half came after Soroka cut back the ball with her left foot just ahead to an oncoming Omsberg.

The second half was an extremely quiet affair, as both teams were unable to break down the respective defenses. Kirk yet again had a “nearly,” but her shot hit the inside of the right post before bouncing out. Favorito was also unable to break the deadlock, ast her blast from 25 yards out was tipped over the crossbar by Gergenti.

Middlebury finally showed its dominance in overtime, as the Panthers overwhelmed the Continentals with an attacking onslaught. Gergenti made a point-blank save from Adrianna Gildner’s ’17 shot, before the post saved the Hamilton keeper once again after Robinson’s shot hit frame before bouncing away.

The Panthers finally found the back of the net in 98th minute. Gildner found herself in space 15 yards out after a pace from Robinson, and coolly slotted the ball into the net after help from a bounce off the post.

“I was impressed by the team’s determination,” Kim said. “Our back line held strong despite playing a lot of minutes the day before, and we were bolstered by solid play from many of our substitutes. Both matches were great team efforts.”

Despite clinching a spot in the playoffs, co-captain Lindsay Kingston ’14 is making sure her team doesn’t get ahead of itself.

“Although we are incredibly excited for the post-season tournament, we are focused on taking it a game at a time and not overlooking any team,” Kingston said. “We are looking to continue to utilize as many players as possible and improve our connectivity with each other on the field. Most importantly we want to play our style of game against all of our competitors, even the most disruptive teams.

The Panthers move into the final stages of conference play with games against Bates on Saturday, Oct. 19 and Williams on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

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