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Women’s soccer falls to Williams in second round of NCAA tournament

By web

Section: Sports

November 19, 2010

PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

The weather was smiling on Brandeis as the women’s soccer team went for the first NCAA Tournament win in school history. Saturday’s unseasonably warm temperature brought out a large crowd of supporters, and the opening kickoff saw a packed sideline of 650 excited fans.

Our team deserved no less than the best from the campus community. A 14-4-1 regular season record earned Brandeis a no. 23 ranking in the nation and the chance to face the Castleton State Spartans in the first round of the tournament. The Judges justified the support from the start of the game, dominating play in the early going. The first few minutes featured very physical play, and several great scoring chances left the crowd groaning as the ball just missed the back of the net.

However, Castleton was able to take advantage of its first scoring chance, tallying the first goal less than 10 minutes into the match. The Judges didn’t miss a beat, however; the constant pressure on the Castleton end continued as soon as the game resumed. After a succession of several corner kicks, Mary Shimko ’14 put the biscuit in the basket, tying the score on a slow dribbler assisted by Alanna Torre ’12. The Spartans’ lead lasted only one minute and 54 seconds.

The next few minutes featured a succession of close plays that could have broken open the game for Brandeis. A great ball into the box just eluded Tiffany Pacheco ’11, a long pass into an open path to the goal rolled mere feet ahead of Ali Theodore ’12, and an offside call waived a third chance. Gradually, the Castleton defense started tightening up, and the balance of play moved to the midfield. The Judges’ hustle continued to impress, but the last 20 minutes of the half passed with few decent chances.

The second half opened in the same way, with tough defenses forcing a back-and-forth, possession-based style of play. The stalemate continued until the 72nd minute, when a hard foul close to the Castleton goal resulted in a yellow card and a Brandeis free kick. The Spartan goalie saved the strike, but the rebound went to Hilary Andrews ’14, and she buried it with an assist from Pacheco to give Brandeis a lead it would never relinquish. The Judges started dropping more players, and some nice stops clinched the 2-1 victory and advancement into the next round.

Brandeis won the game in the stat sheet as well as the scoreboard; they recorded 24 shots to Castleton’s six, and earned eight corner kicks to the Spartans’ one. Just as importantly, they consistently showed great hustle, contesting every loose ball and taking advantage of their superior athleticism and conditioning.

Sunday’s opponent was the ferocious Williams College Ephs, who brought a 13-3-2 record and a no. 9 ranking into the match. The Judges had the support of some of Brandeis’ biggest names; future president Frederick Lawrence, a Williams alumnus, told The Hoot he expected a close game but a Brandeis victory on a late goal. Union President Daniel Acheampong was less diplomatic. When asked for a prediction, he replied, “There is no prediction. We’re gonna win!”

Unfortunately, Williams proved to be a much more formidable foe than Castleton, and the outcome of the game seemed to be in little doubt from the opening whistle. The Ephs potted their first goal in the fourth minute, added a second in the 24th minute, and outshot Brandeis 14-3 in the first half.

Things only got worse from there. By the end of the contest, the Judges were on the short end of a 6-0 score, and Williams player Sara Wild had four goals. Brandeis’ excellent season was finished.

The Judges final record stands at 15-5-1, and they outscored their opponents by a 50-19 margin. Sofia Vallone ’11 led the team with 17 goals and 38 points, and Pacheco contributed 10 assists. Francine Kofinas ’13 sported a stellar 0.82 goals against average, a .865 save percentage, and was credited with all 15 Brandeis wins.

The prognosis for next season is strong; only four seniors are graduating, and though Pacheco, Vallone, Taryn Martiniello and Ellie Einhorn will be missed (they combined to play in a total of 83 of a possible 84 games this year), a solid core of returning players provides great hope for the future. Judging by the great turnout this weekend, the team will have enthusiastic support from the campus community.

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