MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – In a pivotal NESCAC matchup to determine first place in the league standings, the No. 21 Connecticut College women's soccer team fell to No. 2 Middlebury by a 2-0 score at Dragone Field on Saturday afternoon.
Each team was only able to attempt one shot on target through the first 40 minutes of action with both back lines holding their ground. Middlebury, which controlled possession for much of the half and had the best opportunities, finally broke through in the 42nd minute on a play that was initially set up in the far left corner by Eliza Robinson. The junior slid a pass to senior Virginia Charman at the top of the box, and Charman sent the ball inside to Ellie Greenberg, who was immediately double-teamed by a pair of Camel defneders. Greenberg then found an open Gretchen McGrath on the left side for a shot that landed in the far right corner of the net to put the hosts ahead. An ensuing shot by Robinson sailed high, and the teams headed into recess with the Panthers holding on to a one-goal lead.
Middlebury (6-0-1, NESCAC 3-0-1) continued to control play in the second half, but Connecticut College had its chances to net the equalizer. An excellent opportunity came in the 56th minute when junior Tori Kretzmer (Glastonbury, Conn.) stole the ball from Middlebury and started charging towards the goal. But after receiving a pass back from junior Kat Norton (Hampton, Conn.) and finding an open Mya Johnson (Old Lyme, Conn.), the freshman's open shot from the top of the box was able to be corralled by a jumping Ursula Alwang.
The Camels, who moved their goalkeeper outside the box and to the middle of the field to try and gain more offensive opportunities, had another great chance in the waning minutes when they were awarded a free kick from just outside the box on the left side. Senior Sara Kogelmann (Guilderland, N.Y.) sent a dangerous ball into the opposite corner, but Panther defender Eliza Van Voorhis got her head on it first before the ball would eventually be cleared away by Elise Morris.
With Marielle McEnaney (Orleans, Mass.) now in the match as the goalkeeper and still playing up, Middlebury was able to capitalize with the sophomore out of position. McEnaney attempted to make a short pass to switch fields which missed a Camel defender who tripped on her own, and McGrath came up with the ball and fired it into an unguarded net with 1:40 remaining in regulation. A free kick taken by Kogelmann that missed the head of McEnaney inside the box and was fired wide left by freshman Liv Engelfried (Forest Hills, N.Y.) in the waning seconds, allowing the Panthers to come away with the clean sheet.
Alwang picked up the win and her third shutout of the season for Middlebury, which had a 17-7 advantage in total shots and a 4-2 edge in corner kick opportunities in the match between two unbeaten programs. Connecticut College's Katy Pelletier (Topsfield, Mass.) was charged with the loss after making two saves in over 80 minutes of action and yielding the first goal.
Connecticut College (6-1, NESCAC 3-1) will continue a challenging weekend on the road when it visits Williams College, which won the national championship last season, tomorrow at 12 p.m.