Women’s Soccer Edged by Williams in Final

By BENJY RENTON

MICHAEL BORENSTEIN
The women’s soccer team celebrates after advancing to the NCAA Final Four on Sunday, Nov. 18. This was the team’s second journey to the Final Four in program history and its first to the championship

In a tense 1-1 game by the end of two overtime periods, the women’s soccer team was edged by the Williams Ephs 3-2 in penalty kicks in the NCAA Division III championship. This was the Panthers’ first championship appearance in program history.

The previous day, on Friday, Nov. 30, the Panthers defeated the WashU Bears 1-0 in a stunning upset to advance to the national championship. Led by NESCAC Coach of the Year Peter Kim, this was the team’s second journey to the Final Four in program history, having previously competed in 2013. On the way to the championship match, the team secured wins against Maine-Farmington (4-1), Ithaca (0-0 with a win on penalty kicks), Swarthmore (2-0), Misericordia (1-0) and most recently WashU (1-0). Last year, Middlebury’s 12-4-2 record brought them to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

After a collision that caused Caitlin Magruder ’20 to sustain a game-ending injury, Simone Ameer ’21 was the game’s only scorer in the NCAA semifinal, assisted by Ellie Greenberg ’20 and Gretchen McGrath ’21. This was Ameer’s fourth goal of the season. Goalie Ursula Alwang ’20 walked away with three saves, including a header shot by the Bears’ Maggie Crist. The Panthers’ defense was led by Rose Evans ’22, assisted by starters Amanda Dafonte ’19, Janie DeVito ’19 and Isabelle Hartnett ’21.

“I think this was probably one of the hardest games of the season for us,” captain Dafonte said in a press conference following the semifinal. “It was one that we went into saying that we were going to work harder, go out with heart and leave it all out on the field.”

Williams’ journey to the championship match was achieved after a 2-0 win against Christopher Newport in the semifinals and placing second in the NESCAC Championship. The Ephs traveled to Greensboro with a 17-1-4 record.

This was the third time Middlebury competed against Williams this season. The Panthers suffered a 1-0 loss at the end of the regular season on Tuesday, Oct. 23 and won the NESCAC Championship 1-0 in Williamstown on Sunday, Nov. 4.

The first half included a goal by Williams’ Aspen Pierson assisted by Ilana Albert and Georgia Lord, Pierson’s fourth goal of the season. Olivia Miller ’20 and Eliza Robinson ’21 attempted shots on Williams goalie Olivia Barnhill.

With 13 minutes remaining in the second half, the game became tied 1-1 by a Williams own goal. Clare Robinson ’19 and Eliza Robinson ’21 contributed to the Panthers’ total of six shots during regulation play. With the score tied at the end of the second half, the game proceeded into overtime.

In the first overtime period, a shot by Williams’ Sarah Scire was saved by Alwang. This was her second save of the game and 67th of the season. Continuing through the rain, both teams went into a scoreless second overtime period and penalty kicks.

Goalie Eva Shaw ’19.5 was substituted for Alwang for the penalty kicks. She made two saves against Amherst in the NESCAC semifinals and three saves against Ithaca in the NCAA tournament. With shots made by Sara DiCenso ’19 and Cate Shellenback ’22 and missed by Magnolia Moskun ’21.5, Riley Kinum ’22 and Clare Robinson ’19, the Ephs defeated the Panthers 3-2 in penalty kicks.

The Ephs’ win was their third title in four years, making the team the fourth program in NCAA Division III history to win back-to-back championship titles. The championship match was the first between two NESCAC teams in NCAA Division III history and the fourth NESCAC team appearance in the past five years.

“It’s always a hard-fought battle between these two teams. We know each other really well,” head coach Peter Kim said in a press conference following the game. “We have a very special senior class. … They have led by example and pulled the team along.”

“I think we really did a great job playing how we like to play — possessing the ball — and we knew when we had to play a little more direct. We were in it the whole time, and I’m just really proud of that,” said senior captain Abby Blyler.

The Panthers finished their season with a 19-1-4 record, 51 goals and an average of 19.3 shots per game. Clare Robinson ’19 and DeVito ’19 were selected to the first all-NESCAC team, while Alwang, Dafonte and Eliza Van Voorhis ’21 earned spots on the second team. At the conclusion of the final match, Alwang, Evans, Ameer and Clare Robinson were named to the all-tournament team.

BENJY RENTON

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About the Contributors
BENJY RENTON, Senior Sports Editor

Benjy Renton ‘21 is a Sports Editor.
He has previously served as arts and sciences editor, features editor and a staff writer.
Renton’s academic...

MICHAEL BORENSTEIN, Chief Photo Editor

Michael Borenstein ’19 is Chief Photo Editor.
He has been with the photos team since his freshman fall and has served as an editor since the Spring...

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Women’s Soccer Edged by Williams in Final