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No. 20 Judges breeze by Bates and Wellesley on the road

By Evan Goldstein

Section: Sports

September 28, 2012

The Brandeis women’s soccer team had a productive week with two victories, away from their home field. Now with a record of 8-1-0, it is evident that the Judges have the will and ability to win at any point in any match. Specifically, the defense for the Judges has been phenomenal, only allowing two goals in nine matches. The rest of the matches were wins, and were all clean sheets. The matches against Bates and Wellesley were no different, both close 1-0 wins. Each match was also very hotly contested, with no team able to establish dominance at any point.

The match at Bates began with great possession and scoring chances by the two sides. Both keepers, Anabel Schmelz for Bates and Francine Kofinas ’15 for Brandeis, were tested early and throughout the match as both sides had numerous shots on goal. In the first half, Holly Szafran ’16 and Alec Spivack ’15 nearly scored on Schmelz numerous times while the Bates’ offensive unit worked Kofinas all over the box but could not get the ball past her.

By the 44th minute, everyone was surprised that, with so many fluid transitions between offensive zones, no ball had crossed the goal line. No one had to wait any longer, however, with Dara Spital ’15 scoring shortly before half. The scoring chance was created by Alyssa Fenenbock ’15 chipping a volley in between the box and midline right over the center back and into the middle of the box, right to Spital, who deftly shot forward on the volley avoiding offsides. Spital, with only the keeper in front, did not hesitate and pulled the trigger and struck home another goal. This was Spital’s team-leading seventh goal this season, a total that does not look like it will slow down.

The goal before half has been and always will be very influential to a team’s outlook for the second half. This is nothing new for the Judges, however, as they have been scored on and have scored before half in many matches this season. This sort of repetitive effect for the Judges usually lessens the change in focus that may occur from such an event. Nonetheless, Bates got the same memo, because the intensity that existed from both sides in the first half, was definitely present in the second.

During the second half’s back-and-forth action, Camille Smith found herself with a free kick for Bates. In a dangerous set of moments, the strike from Smith found Brandeis Keeper Michelle Savuto ’15. The ball rolled tentatively on the line, which could have looked like a goal from one angle, a great scoring chance from another, or just an easy pickup for the keeper from the Referee’s angle. The latter turned out to be true as Savuto quickly fell on the ball to stop the madness and the Referee called no goal.

It could be said that the Judges escaped with a win against Bates but it could also be said that the Judges could have had a blowout. That was the nature of the match, back-and-forth and not partial to one side.

Brandeis would end up with 17 shots total with nine of them on goal, while Bates would end up with 12 shots total with six of them on goal. Schmelz would end up with eight saves and the Kofinas-Savuto tandem would pick up six. These are high numbers for the average soccer match—a result of the fluid and numerous transitions and back-and-forth play.

It almost seemed like deja vu to the Judges as the match at Wellesley had the same gameplay and the high intensity offensive chances as the match against Bates.

Abbey Hybl ’16 reinforced the similarity by telling The Hoot, “It was a lot of back and forth, I’d say.”

The difference about this match, however, was that the Judges struck early in the match instead of playing with fire until half. The scoring chance was created when a strike by Spivack was deflected by the Wellesley keeper Kat Goldsmith only to be placed in the net, off of the foot of Szafran for her fourth of the season, second to Spital in goals scored.

The first half saw Wellesley dominate possession early, and even with the goal by Szafran, the Judges could not make an early influence in the match. With their dominating possession in the first half, Wellesley tested Brandeis keeper Kofinas and then dangerously earned a penalty kick in the 25th minute. This was uncharacteristic of a defense that rarely gives the other side a chance to score, not to mention that this was the first penalty kick allowed this season by the Judges. Nevertheless, Megan Turshi, who took the kick for Wellesley placed the ball far right, a huge break for Brandeis.

Possession wise, the Judges would achieve superiority soon after the missed penalty.

“Once we were able to gain and hold possession, we controlled the game,” Hybl said. In terms of offensive efficiency, however, Wellesley still put up a fight, outshooting the Judges 10-4 in the second half, working Savuto all over the box. Nonetheless, Savuto held firm, not allowing one ball to get past. She would end the match with five saves, adding to her honors as co-defensive player of the week.

At full time, the Judges would come out on top once again with their eighth win in nine matches and eighth clean sheet as well. While these wins have been very important and pride-worthy they are not as important as the upcoming conference matches. These matches will determine placement in the end-of-season tournament and are a more consistent measure of a side’s true competitive talent.

The Judges will compete at Rochester on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in their first conference match.

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