Women’s Soccer Extends Unbeaten Streak

By Alex Morris

The Middlebury women’s soccer team finished the regular season at the top of the NESCAC, remaining unbeaten in its past 13 games. The Panthers capped off a successful fall break with a 1-0 win over Bates on Saturday, Oct. 19 before besting Williams in a thriller on Tuesday, Oct. 22 and finishing off with a tie against Wesleyan on Saturday, Oct. 26.

Middlebury cruised to a comfortable victory against Bates, with Julia Favorito ’14 scoring the only goal of the game in the 53rd minute for her fourth tally of the season. On the play, Jamie Soroka ’16 originally fired a shot at goal that was parried away by Bates goalkeeper Anabel Schmelz. As the ball remained loose in the box, the rebound found Favorito who slotted the ball into the bottom right corner.

The visitors kept the pressure on after the goal, as Scarlett Kirk ’14 recorded three of her game-high eight shots in a five-minute period, underlining a bigger trend of the game of being unable to capitalize on numerous created chances.

Bates almost found an equalizer in the 86th minute after Lily Peterson nodded in a cross from Leah Humes, but the Bobcat was deemed offside.

The Panthers carried the momentum from the win against Bates into a season-defining game against Williams. At the start of the first half, both teams failed to establish a dominant presence, with much of the battle being fought in the midfield. Williams failed to capitalise on three straight corner kicks while Kirk saw her powerful strike just graze over the crossbar in the 38th minute to leave the score goalless at the half.

The second half again provided few scoring chances, as the game looked like it was proceeding into overtime. However, with just 50 seconds left on the clock, Carter Talgo ’15 played a ball up the left side to Kirk who ran onto the ball just inside the box. The striker coolly chipped a shot over the oncoming Williams’ keeper to claim a last minute victory for her team. The win ensured the Panthers the top spot in the NESCAC and a quarterfinal on home turf.

“It felt good [to score the winning goal], mostly because I was just relieved that we wouldn’t have to go into overtime,” Kirk said. “It was a very hard fought game and we were all getting tired by the end of the game. Carter took the ball all the way up the field and her perfect pass made it a very easy finish for me.”

Middlebury held a 13-4 shot advantage in the game as Elizabeth Foody ’14 made three stops in goals for her seventh shutout of the season.

Middlebury was unable to add another win to its record and had to settle for a 1-1 tie at Wesleyan. The Cardinals controlled the play for much of the first half and were especially boosted by an early penalty miss by the Panthers. Moria Sloan ’14 was unable to find a way past Wesleyan keeper Jessica Tollman who assertively knocked her shot away. The Cardinals used the momentum to score less than five minutes later. Sarah Sylla took a hard crossing pass from Hannah Stone and banged it low to the right of Foody.

The Panthers came out of the break unshaken from Wesleyan’s goal, and scored less than six minutes into the second half. Soroka beat the Cardinal defense and slid a shot past Tollman. Soroka continued to dominate the Wesleyan defense, but both teams were unable to break the deadlock in the final minutes. Middlebury had only two shots in overtime with neither team able to mount a sustained attack.

Head coach Peter Kim is looking for his team to continue doing the little things right such as playing as a unit and solid defense, while learning from mistakes made in the previous games.

“Looking ahead to Saturday, we want to play beautifully while generating more quality goal scoring opportunities,” Kim said. “Every team we could face has a strong back line and excellent goalkeeping, so we’ll need to up our attacking game in order to earn the win.”

The Panthers return to action on Saturday, Oct. 2 in the NESCAC quarterfinal against the eighth seed. Despite claiming the top seed, Kim is cautious of expectations.

“It’s always nice to earn the regular season title,” Kim said. “However, we’ve been here before and know that our seeding doesn’t mean anything. “We’re in it to win it, and will have a very strong opponent in the first round of the NESCAC tournament, regardless of who takes the eighth seed.”

The conference tournament opens up this weekend, with NESCAC quarterfinals slated for this coming Saturday, Nov. 2.