Late Goal Sends Women’s Soccer to the Postseason

By Gabe Weissmann

After falling behind to Wesleyan late in the game as the result of a scored penalty kick, the Middlebury women’s soccer team rallied back and took the lead with two minutes left in the game, allowing them to clinch a spot in the NESCAC playoffs. Wesleyan, who went into the game with a record of 1-10-2 and had yet to win a NESCAC game this season, came out firing and was the first to score off of a goal from Cardinal Sarah Sylla off of a cross from Madeline Keane 22 minutes into the first half.

After Sylla’s goal, Middlebury began to apply offensive pressure on Wesleyan, producing three consecutive shots from Hannah Robinson ’16, Adrianna Gildner ’17, and Carter Talgo ’15. Wesleyan finally caved to the Middlebury bombardment when Robinson finished a cross from Jamie Soroka ’16 to the near post. With the score tied at 1-1 after the first half, Middlebury continued to pepper the Wesleyan defense, but a number of big saves from Wesleyan goalie Rachel Hobert prevented Middlebury from scoring. Wesleyan caught a big break 65 minutes into the game after a Middlebury foul in the box allowed Wesleyan’s Marisa Yang to capitalize on a penalty kick.

With the post-season on the line, Middlebury received a wave of energy and quickly translated their momentum into a goal. Thirty seconds after Yang’s penalty kick, Katherine Hobbs ’17 found Soroka, who finished the through ball from Hobbs over the Wesleyan goalie’s head for the equalizer.
After tying the game, Middlebury continued to pressure Wesleyan’s defenders with a number of solid attempts at the goal including an attempted cross from Soroka that deflected off the far pipe of Wesleyan’s goal. Finally, Talgo gained control of a deflected shot by Soroka and scored, giving Middlebury the go-ahead goal with two minutes left to play. A last minute attempt by Wesleyan to tie the game was thwarted by Panther goaltender Emily Eslinger ’18 who made a diving save to prevent Wesleyan’s Madeline Keane from scoring late in the match.

Throughout the game Middlebury dominated Wesleyan in shooting and corner kicks, out-shooting the Cardinals 24-7 and leading the Cardinals in corner kicks 7-2. Middlebury’s Eslinger earned the win in goal, making three saves on five shots on goal. Wesleyan’s goalie finished the game with seven saves, facing 10 shots on goal from the Panthers.

Soroka looked positively on the win. “Our win against Wesleyan was a great way to finish out our NESCAC regular season and a fantastic win for our seven seniors on senior day,” she said.

With the win against Wesleyan, Middlebury women’s soccer earned a spot in the NESCAC playoffs, and awaits the news of their matchup for next Saturday in the NESCAC quarterfinals.

“We need to continue to bring our competitive edge coupled with our possession-oriented style of play to practice every day, and know that we need to take the tournament one game at a time in order to be as successful as we all know we can be,” Soroka said.

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