Women’s Soccer Falls to Williams in Conference Semis

By Gabe Weissmann

Despite having a wave of momentum behind them going into Saturday’s NESCAC semifinal matchup, the Middlebury women’s soccer team was unable to withstand a strong Williams offense and fell to the Ephs by a score of 0-2 on Saturday, Nov. 8.

Williams came out firing early in the game, shooting six of the first seven shots within the first 30 minutes of the game. The Ephs had their best opportunity at minute twenty-eight in the game, but were thwarted by Panther goalie Emily Eslinger ’18. Despite the pressure, Eslinger and the Middlebury defense remained strong during the barrage, and continued to fend off Williams throughout the first half.

With a scoreless game heading into the second half, both teams were playing aggressively coming out of the break with a trip to the NESCAC championship on the line.

The Panthers had a big opportunity at minute sixty-seven off of a free kick from Moria Sloan ’15 and an ensuing shot from Carter Talgo ’15 off Sloan’s rebound that sailed over the net.

After 71 minutes of failed opportunities, Williams’ Alison Magruder took advantage of a Middlebury mistake and finished a shot off of a stolen pass to put the Ephs up 1-0.

Up one goal, the Ephs continued the pressure on Middlebury’s defense and, five minutes after their first goal, scored a second after Williams’ Kristie Kirshe finished a header off of a cross from Crystal Lewin.

Despite a number of opportunities after the Kirshe’s goal from both ends, both teams failed to score after the 76th minute.

By the end of the game, Williams had significantly outshot Middlebury by a margin of 17-9. Carter Talgo led the Panthers in shooting with three shots in the game, while Amy Martin fired off the only shot on goal for the Panthers. Kristi Kirshe led Williams in shooting with five shots.

While Middlebury lost in the shooting game, the Panthers had more corner kick opportunities but were unfortunately unable to capitalize on them. Despite the loss Middlebury’s Emily Eslinger stepped up in net, making six saves on eight shots on goal.

Meanwhile Williams goalkeeper Hannah Van Wetter earned the shutout with one save on one shot on goal. It was Van Wetter’s 14th shutout of the season, and her sixth straight match without yielding a goal.

The lost against Williams leaves Middlebury with a final season record of 10-7. The Panthers did not receive a bid to the NCAA tournament.

Meanwhile the Ephs, who were ranked sixth nationally going into the game, played Connecticut College in the NESCAC final and lost in penalty kicks.

For the seniors on the Middlebury team, the early end to the season is a low point in a four-year career that saw the team qualify for three consecutive NCAA tournaments. Last season, the Panthers rode a 19-game winning streak all the way to the national semifinals, earning their first such trip in program history. The 2013 Panthers also won first NESCAC championship since 2006.

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