Women’s Soccer Scores Late Goal to Top Jumbos

By Remo Plunkett

The Middlebury women’s soccer team extended their winning streak to three this past weekend, defeating NESCAC rival Tufts in a rain-soaked home match on Saturday, Oct. 4 by a score of 1-0. The game remained scoreless until the 77th minute when senior midfielder Claire Nishioka ’15 converted on one of her three shots on the day to secure the victory for the Panthers.

Unfavorably slippery field conditions on Middlebury’s Dragone Field limited the amount of scoring opportunities throughout the match, with only five of both team’s 18 shots landing on target. Despite the weather conditions Middlebury continued to excel in applying offensive pressure, outshooting Tufts by a margin of 15-3 to continue their recent trend of outshooting the opponent.

Panther midfielders Katherine Hobbs ’17, Hannah Robinson ’16, and Nishioka made key contributions to the high-powered Panther offense. Nishioka and Robinson combined to tally all four of the team’s shots on goal with two apiece. The duo almost capitalized in the 28th minute when Robinson’s cross from the right wing found Nishioka five yards from the net, who was unable to convert due to a close-range save by Tufts’ Eileen McGarry.

Despite Middlebury’s impressive amount of shots on goal, Tufts managed to get out of the defensive end and create scoring chances of their own. In the 69th minute, the Jumbos collected a loose ball in front of Middlebury’s goal and attempted to convert. However, Tufts’ Brooke Fortin was unable to maintain control in the wet conditions and the ball was harmlessly deflected out of bounds on the end line.

Both sides exhibited excellent goaltending, with Middlebury’s Emily Eslinger ’18 recording a shutout following her single-save performance. The first year contributor has yet to allow a goal in her first three career starts for the Panthers, earning victories in each appearance.

Tufts’ goalkeeper Eileen McGarry earned three saves, two of which came off of diving maneuvers, to deny Nishioka’s attempts from  Robinson and later, Carter Talgo ’15. Nishioka remained relentless in her attack and eventually McGarry was not able to defend a third time when Nishioka blasted a shot to the lower right corner at the 76:15 mark to put the Panthers ahead.

With the exception of shots on goal, the two teams proved a fairly even match, recording similar numbers on fouls and corner kicks throughout the game. From the 76th minute forward, neither team was able to produce additional scoring opportunities, allowing Middlebury to claim a crucial second NESCAC win on the season.

Following Saturday’s result Middlebury improves to 2-3-0 in NESCAC play and 6-3-0 overall while Tufts stands at 2-2-1 within the conference and 5-2-1 on the season. The Panthers will return to action on Saturday, Oct. 11 when they face the Trinity Bantams.

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