November 4, 2012

Williams Edges Women's Soccer Team in Penalty Kicks to Take NESCAC Title

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - The Williams College women's soccer team prevailed in a shootout to claim the 2012 NESCAC Championship on Sunday over Bowdoin. 

Williams and Bowdoin played 120 minutes of soccer and they could not resolve the 1-1 tie. Forced into two overtimes the score remained deadlocked, but Williams topped Bowdoin 3-0 in the resulting penalty shootout to claim the 2012 NESCAC crown and earn the NESCAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

With the tie the Williams record now stands at 12-3-2 on the year, while Bowdoin's record is 11-3-3. The Polar Bears will hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament when pairings are released on Monday.

While Williams had a slight edge in play in the first half, most of the shots by both teams ended up going over the cross bar. The Ephs' Carla Nicasio had a good look from the top of the box and hit the ball firmly with her left foot, but too high. Bowdoin's Toni DaCampo had the same experience at the other end of the field just over a minute later. In the eighth minute the Ephs' Hayley Cook fired off a shot that bounced before it reached Bowdoin goaltender Bridget McCarthy. The ball caromed to the Ephs' Abby Morrs who fired on goal, but the shot was right at the Bowdoin netminder. Nicasio tested McCarthy moments later with a long looping shot from deep on the left side that found the Bowdoin keeper leaping up to bat the ball down and collecting it on a bounce.

The Ephs scored first when Abby Morrs charged down the side of the box to the left of McCarthy and fired a crossing pass that was intended for Lilly Wellenbach, but struck a Bowdoin defender's hand and a penalty kick opportunity resulted.

The Ephs sent Chloe Kuh to the spot for the shot. Kuh calmly buried her shot past McCarthy on the left side to put Williams up 1-0.

It did not take Bowdoin long to respond. The gritty Polar Bears who upset third seeded Amherst yesterday in a penalty shootout after battling back from down a goal three times scored in the 21st minute. Jamie Hofstetter came on to a ball on the right side of the box and after a touch lasered a shot past Van Wetter at 20:58 to tie the game.

Even play marked the remaining 24 minutes of play in the first half and the teams went to the intermission tied at one goal apiece. In the opening 45 minutes Williams had a slight edge in play firing off 8 shots at the Bowdoin goal causing McCarthy to make four saves. Williams' starting goalie Hannah Van Wetter stopped one of two Bowdoin shots.

At 49:07 the Ephs' Louisa Costa turned the corner on McCarthy's left side and made it to the end line, where she crossed the ball to a charging Abby Morrs. Morrs' shot was just a bit wide to the right. Just over 19 minutes later Bowdoin's Alex Yurick placed a corner kick in the box about eight yards out, but Hofstetter's header went just over the bar.

Yurick had a chance of her own to score when Laura Wann punched out a Bowdoin shot that Yurick tried to half volley into the open side of the goal. The ball squirted off Yurick's boot and went out of bounds. For the rest of the contest in regulation and the overtime sessions the two tired teams were not able to muster much offense.

After 110 minutes Williams had tested McCarthy nine times and she made eight saves, while the Eph goalie tandem found Hannah Van Water making two saves and allowing one goal and Laura Wann making but one save over the final 65 minutes.

In the penalty shootout the Ephs were first to shoot. Lilly Wellenbach stepped up to the spot and calmly drilled home her shot. Bowdoin's first shot taker was Becky Stoneman. Stoneman was stopped by Wann giving Williams a 1-0 lead. Next up for Williams was Caitlyn Clark who also managed to get the ball past McCarthy. Bowdoin's second shooter was Casey Blossom. Blossom's shot was pushed aside by a diving Wann and Williams led 2-0.

Shooting third for the Ephs was Crystal Lewin who also beat McCarthy with a well-placed effort. Bowdoin's hopes for extending the shootout rested with Toni DaCampo. DaCampo's shot was off target to the right and Williams earned its fifth NESCAC title in the last six years and sixth over all.

The Polar Bears fell short for a second time in search of a NESCAC title. The Polar Bears were also bested by Williams in the 2007 final. The NCAA will host a women's soccer selection show on its website at1:30 p.m. on Monday.

Photos of Bowdoin's Sarah Wallace (above right) and captains Casey Blossom, Toni DaCampo and Molly Popolizio courtesy of Williams College.

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