Last weekend’s quarterfinal matchups produced some shockers. High seeded teams such as Conn College and Middlebury fell. Amherst and Hamilton shocked the NESCAC world by coming into the playoffs as low seeds, and pulling off those upsets. And in less shocking news, Tufts and Williams continued their dominance. All but one game had a 1-0 score. This semifinal weekend will be just as exciting as the quarter final weekend with dominant teams playing the underdogs. As we saw last weekend, never count any team out. Here is a preview of the semifinal matchups:
#7 Amherst vs #1 Williams (Williamstown, MA, 11:00 AM)
As fate would have it, Amherst and Williams will meet in the playoffs. Similar to Yankees/Red Sox, Lakers/Celtics, Alabama/Auburn rivalries, the Amherst and Williams rivalry is one of the most storied rivalries not only in college sports, but in sports altogether. In a late September game, Williams narrowly defeated Amherst by a 3-2 margin. November soccer, however, is a lot different than September soccer. These are two different teams from the ones that met in September.
Williams kept rolling with an almost perfect record–albeit with a loss to Middlebury. One major boost for Williams is Aspen Pierson ‘21. Pierson is coming off offseason hip surgery that has limited her playing time. She made her Eph debut in an October game against Wesleyan, and has steadily been logging increasing minutes. She’s a dynamic playmaker with great field vision. Her anticipation and soccer IQ only adds to Williams’ already potent arsenal.
Amherst also is a much improved team since that September game. I’ll admit, I wrote them off in the mid season power rankings because of their lack of defensive discipline even though they compiled impressive offensive statistics. It looks like the team has completely righted that ship. Amherst knocked off the second seeded Conn College Camels in a cinderella 1-0 win. I don’t think Amherst had the discipline earlier in the year to win a 1-0 game against a very strong team like the Camels. This win, nevertheless, shows the improvement Amherst has made. Rubii Tamen ‘19 scored the lone Amherst goal. Tamen has been one of the best offensive players for Amherst, and will be looked upon if the team wants to pull off the upset. There’s no doubt Williams is the more talented team. Williams and Amherst matchups, however, are almost always a coin flip. However, I believe that it is Williams’ year:
Prediction: Williams 2-1
#6 Hamilton vs #4 Tufts (Williamstown, MA, 1:30 PM)
The Hamilton Continentals’ road to the finals has not been easy. First, they had to defeat a team [Middlebury] that accomplished something no other team in the country could do: beat Williams. Middlebury’s loss to Hamilton was truly a shocker. Emily Dumont ‘18 stood on her head in net all day–making a few desperation saves to keep Hamilton in the game. Maddie Dale ‘20 scored her first goal of the season at the most opportune time. Once Hamilton got the lead, the Continentals never looked back. I would say that everything had to go the way it did for Hamilton to secure the win. Dumont had to not let anything past her, and someone had to step up for the Continentals. Similar to Amherst, the Continentals are steamrolling into this semifinal matchup.
If I were Tufts, I wouldn’t want to play a hot team. In the NESCAC, however, there are no easy matchups–especially during the playoffs. Tufts’ road to the semifinals had to go through Trinity; the Bantams put up a real fight, but Tufts’ composure that they’ve showed all season carried them to a win. After that embarrassing loss to Williams in October, it seems like Tufts has turned the page, and gone back to what they do best: defense and Sophie Lloyd ’21. Lloyd has carried the Jumbos all season. Her lone goal was the difference maker in the game against Trinity. The freshman sensation’s sixteen points on the season is one of the major reasons of the team’s success. This game will be played after the Amherst/Williams game, so both teams will know which team they could possibly face in the finals. Like in all sports, Hamilton and Tufts need to remember to take one game at a time, and not worry about Williams/Amherst. I’m going to go with the upset here:
I got cocky everybody, I did. I was 4 and 0 going into the semifinals and extremely confident in my ability to bend the landscape of NESCAC women’s soccer to my will. Well, the fates proved me wrong. Like a latter day Oedipus I was punished for my hubris and my predictions were torn asunder as Trinity and Amherst advanced to the finals over my chosen Williams and Middlebury. Regardless of my personal failings though, we have games to recap and 5 NESCAC teams who made the NCAA tournament to talk about; Let’s go!
NESCAC Semifinal and Final Review
Trinity defeats Williams 1-1 (3-1 in Penalties)
Trinity, the 4 seed, upended Williams, the 1 seed and defending champion, on penalty kicks last Saturday. Trinity’s Tricia Pollock ’20 struck first for the Bantams, and Trinity led 1-0 for the duration of the first half. In the second half Williams responded with a goal from Kristi Kirshe ’17 to tie the game at one. The game remained tied for the rest of regulation and both overtime periods. In the shootout Trinity keeper Julia Pitino ’18 made 3 saves to secure the victory, and a place in the finals, for the Bantams.
Amherst defeats Middlebury 2-0
I obviously underestimated the team formerly known as the Lord Jeffries. Despite looking increasingly vulnerable in the first half as Middlebury threatened again and again, Amherst remained resilient and scored two goals early in the second half to assure their victory. The goals were scored by Hannah Guzzi ’18 and Rubii Tamen ’19
FINALS: Amherst defeats Trinity 2-1
Amherst continued their run into the finals where they defeated Trinity 2-1. Much like their game against Williams, Trinity struck first, taking a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the game following a goal by Laura Nee ’17. Amherst though, similar to their game against Middlebury, proved that they can overcome a slow start with strong second half play. Amherst scored twice in the second half to secure their fourth overall NESCAC title. Rubii Tamen ’19 and Emily Hester ’17 scored for Amherst.
Player of the Tournament
I’d just like to quickly extend my congratulations to Rubii Tamen ’19, my pick for player of the tournament. Tamen notched 4 goals over the course of three games to help lead Amherst to a conference championship. The decision by Amherst coaches to move her farther forward on the pitch was obviously the correct one and paid off in a big way as Tamen scored in every single game of the tournament. Again, congratulations to Rubii Tamen and the whole Amherst soccer team.
OK! There you go I was nice to Amherst and a player on their team. So, I think I’ve earned both Christmas presents and maybe a nap. But I don’t have time for sleep! We have to talk about the upcoming NCAA tournament where 5 NESCAC teams are represented. Amherst of course received an automatic bid, but Williams, Middlebury, Trinity, and Conn College received at large bids as well. So, let’s briefly go over these teams’ first round games and their overall prospects for the tournament.
Conn College vs. University of Scranton in Westminster, Maryland
Conn College gets the honor of traveling the farthest out of any NESCAC team. The Camels will travel to Maryland this Saturday to take on the Scranton Royals who have been on the outskirts of the top 25 all season. Scranton also comes into the game at 17-1-1, with their only loss coming against Swarthmore, another NCAA tournament team who was ranked in the top 25 at that point in the season. Conn College on the other hand comes into the game at 10-5-1 and still desperate for a signature win. Scranton is scoring almost 3 goals a game, and I don’t see Conn College, who just allowed 6 goals against Amherst, slowing down that attack. Sorry Camels, but it doesn’t look like you’ll be dancing for long this year.
Trinity vs. WPI in Geneva, New York
Trinity’s surprise visit to the NESCAC finals, and their upending of #3 (nationally) Williams, catapulted this bubble team firmly into the NCAA tournament field. The Bantams will play WPI, owners of a 16-2-2 record and winners of the NEWMAC conference. Trinity, meanwhile is 11-4-3 with two of those losses coming against top-15 ranked teams in the country. This will be a defensive battle. Neither team is averaging more than 2 goals per game and both allow less than 0.75 goals per game as well. WPI relies heavily for goals on two senior forwards, Erin Bracken and Emma Turton, who have each scored 7 goals this year. Trinity is more of a one trick pony, relying almost exclusively on sophomore Taylor Kirchgessner who has scored 10 goals this year. In an NCAA tournament game where the defenses will be more focused and keyed in on important players, I see the more well rounded team from WPI edging out the Bantams (of course I have counted out Trinity prematurely before).
Middlebury vs. MIT in Hoboken, New Jersey
The Panthers travel south to New Jersey to take on MIT. Middlebury enters the game with a 13-4 overall record while MIT is 17-5-1. In the most recent polls, Middlebury earned votes to be in the top-25 but failed to crack the final rankings. MIT did not receive any votes. Both teams are coming off disappointing ends to their conference seasons. Middlebury lost to eventual NESCAC champions Amherst, and MIT lost in the NEWMAC conference championship to WPI. Middlebury’s schedule this year has certainly been tougher than MIT’s and this will aid them in the upcoming game. MIT also almost exclusively relies on young talent for goals. Only one upper-class Engineer has scored more than 3 goals, and no senior has scored on the season. Middlebury has several holdovers from the team that went to the final four 3 seasons ago and two of those holdovers, Adrianna Gildner ’17 and Katherine Hobbs ’17, are the Panthers’ two leading goal scorers. A third senior, Amanda Haik ’17, anchors their defense. I predict that experience and leadership will help the Panthers secure a victory.
Amherst vs. Lasell in Amherst, Massachusetts
Amherst gets a home game to start the NCAA tournament, and the #13 national ranking after their NESCAC championship. Amherst is 15-2-1 and Lasell is 18-2-1. Both teams are conference champions with Lasell clinching the GNAC crown against Albertus Magnus last week. Lasell is known for their high octane offense which has produced 3.14 goals per game, a mark that would be best in the NESCAC. Of course, this number is inflated by games against inferior competition, and games where the team exploded for an absurd amount of goals, they scored more than 5 goals 6 times this season. Amherst will have to rely on their defense, sacrificing a stingy 0.61 goals per game on the year, to carry them, which I think it will. The goalkeeping of Chelsea Cutler ’19, who only allowed 2 goals throughout the NESCAC tournament, will be vital to Amherst making a deep run.
Williams vs. Elms in Williamstown, Massachusetts
Williams fell to number 3 in the national polls after Trinity upset them in the NESCAC semis, yet they still managed to land home game to start the NCAA tournament. Williams, possessor of a 15-0-2 record, will face off against the 18-3-1 team from Elms College. Elms captured the NECC crown this past weekend and will be looking to build off their momentum as they have won 5 straight and 9 of their last 10 overall. Williams combines a potent attack, 2.71 goals per game, with a stingy defense, 0.35 goals allowed per game, and looks to dominate their opponents across the board. To have any hope of victory, Elms will need to break through that defense and score at their usual 3.09 goal per game clip, which would be quite a feat indeed as Williams has not conceded more than 1 goal in a game all season. Williams will win this one.
All 5 NESCAC teams certainly have a shot to win this upcoming weekend. By virtue of playing in the NESCAC they will have more experience playing against top level competition when compared with almost any other team in the county. I see Middlebury, Williams, and Amherst all advancing comfortable with Conn and Trinity each having a chance to win their games. Williams is the clear favorite in their bracket with little opposition appearing anywhere on the board except for a potential Elite 8 date with Middlebury or Stevens, and a possible Sweet 16 game with Johns Hopkins. Amherst also has a chance to advance to the final four, although that will mean navigating the buzzsaw that is William Smith who is 18-0-0 and has held onto the number 1 ranking seemingly all year (pst! If Trinity wins they’ll most likely play Smith in the second round). No matter what, we’re in store for some great soccer this weekend and a strong showing from the NESCAC!
Hey everybody, sorry we’re a little late. You know how weeks go what with work and other work and sometimes work and rarely play. But without further adieu, here’s the women’s soccer recap of last week!
Tuesday, October 4th
St. Lawrence @ Middlebury, Final Score: 0-3 Middlebury
Wednesday, October 5th
Trinity @ Wesleyan, Final score: Trinity 4-0
The visiting Bantams emerged victorious in this interstate rivalry, besting Wesleyan 4-0. The Bantams scored four times in the first half, and four different Bantam players, Laura Nee ’17, Taylor Kirchgessner ’19, Sheena Landy ’17 and Andi Nicholson ’17, found the back of the net. Wesleyan actually changed goalies going into the second half, subbing out Zoe Cassels-Brown ’20 and replacing her with Claire Coyle ’20 but the damage had already been done.
University of New England @ Colby,Final score: 1-2 Colby
Maine Farmington @ Bowdoin,Final score: 0-6 Bowdoin
Saturday, October 8th
Wesleyan @ Colby,Final score: 0-1 Colby
The host mules defeated the visiting Cardinals in a hard fought defensive battle 1-0. Wesleyan surely walked away from this game feeling that they should have one. They tested Colby keeper Samantha Rizzo ’19 with 15 shots, but were never able to beat her or the hard-nosed Colby defense. Aliza Van Leesten ’17 provided all the offense that Colby needed, slotting home a goal off a scrum ensuing from a corner kick. Newly starting Wesleyan keep Claire Coyle ’20 was only tested 3 times, and did manage to make 2 saves, but sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce the way you want, which Wesleyan certainly learned on Saturday.
Conn College @ Bates,Final score: 1-0 Conn College
This game largely followed the formula we expected, with the 18th ranked Camels defeating the struggling Bobcats by a score of 1-0. The only goal of the game came with tenths of a second remaining in the first half when Emmy McGoldrick ’19 scored off a deflection. Hannah Graves ’17 was really the only Bobcat to test Conn goalie Bryanna Montalvo ’17, but her shot was saved. Conn held a dominant advantage in shots taken, testing Bates 6 times to just 1 attempt on goal against the Camels.
Hamilton @ Amherst, Final score: 0-3 Amherst
Amherst thoroughly dominated the visiting Continentals, coasting away with an easy 3-0 win. The L*** J**** outshot Hamilton 20 to 6, and had a 9 to 1 advantage after the first period. In that first period Amherst found the back of the net two times. The first came less than three minutes into the game when Rubii Tamen ’19 made an incredible run and beat Hamilton keeper Emily Dumont ’19. Five minutes later, Dumont was again forced to collect the ball from the netting as Ashlyn Heller ’17 scored after receiving a free kick from Megan Root ’19. Emily Hester ’17 capped off the day’s scoring, firing a looping shot over the heads of Hamilton after collecting the ball from a defensive mistake in the Continentals’ own half.
Trinity @ Bowdoin,Final score: 1-0 Trinity
The only goal of this contest came about 15 minutes into the game when Trinity’s Tricia Pollock ’20 blasted a shot from distance. Trinity then held tightly to that lead to escape with the 1-0 win. Bowdoin actually outshot the visiting Bantams 6 to 3 but failed to beat Julia Pitino ’18 even one time. Bowdoin also forced 6 corner kicks, but they failed to capitalize on their numerous opportunities.
Tufts @ Middlebury,Final score: 2-3 Middlebury
The most exciting game from the weekend certainly happened in Middlebury, VT where the visiting Jumbos were defeated by the Panthers 3-2. Middlebury fell behind early when Tufts’ Emma Ranalli ’19 scored a beautiful free kick and beat Panther keeper Kate Reinmuth ’17. Middlebury was shut out for the entirety of the first half but struck back early in the second half when Alex Barber ’19 scored a shot from roughly 20 yards away off a pass from Sara Dicenso ’19. Mariah Harvey-Brown ’18 put the visitors back on top, heading in a goal in the 72nd minute, but the Panthers wasted little time responding to this goal, as Adrianna Gildner ‘17 soon tapped in an easy goal off a pass from Amanda Hotvedt ’17. With the game knotted at 2-2, and time winding down, everyone expected to be heading into overtime, until Gildner scored her second goal of the afternoon off a rebound shot. Middlebury outshot the Jumbos 16-4 and surely deserved this hard fought victory.
Bard @ Williams, Final score: 0-5 Williams
Sunday, October 9
MIT @ Williams,Final score: 1-4
Bates @ Husson, Final score: 4-0 Bates
Monday, October 10
Brooklyn @ Conn College,Final score: 0-5 Conn College
Tuesday, October 11
Endicott @ Tufts,Final score: 0-4 Tufts
Keene State @ Amherst,Final score: 0-3 Amherst
Colby @ U. Maine Farmington, Final Score: 4-0 Colby
Sage @ Hamilton,Final score: 0-4 Hamilton
Player of the Week
I swear I’m not playing Middlebury for favorites, but we have to give this player of the week to Adrianna Gildner. The senior forward scored two goals in the last 15 minutes of Middlebury’s game against Tufts to secure a come from behind 3-2 victory. The two goals were her fifth and sixth of the season, tying her with Trinity’s Taylor Kirchgessner for fourth place on the list of NESCAC scoring leaders. Middlebury, and Gildner, seem to be hitting their stride just at the right moment in the season, and hope to keep this late season form going into the coming weeks.