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Reflections on the most successful women’s soccer season in school history

By Brian Tabakin

Section: Sports, Top Stories

November 30, 2012

The clock struck midnight two games early for the Brandeis women’s soccer team. After a season of ups and downs and a foundation built upon their staunch defense, the Judges’ season came to a close against the Misericordia Cougars in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. The Judges tied their school record for most wins, finishing the season 16-5-2.

All season long, the Judges’ trademark had been scoring early and then relying on their defense to hold their opponent’s offense in check. In this game, however, the tables turned. The Cougars scored just three minutes into the game when sophomore Megan Lannigan charged toward the left post after taking a cross from Erin McGreal and then shot the ball past Brandeis keeper Francine Kofinas ’13.

After the initial goal, the Judges’ defense picked up their intensity and bottled up the Cougar’s offense for the vast majority of the rest of the first half, allowing the Judges’ offense to mount their counterattack.

The Judges had two opportunities toward the end of the half to tie the game. In the 28th minute of play, Sapir Edalati ’15 had a scoring chance but it was high and to the right of the goal. The Judges’ best chance at a 1-1 tie came in the 40th minute of play. Dara Spital ’15 weaved through three Cougar defenders and then let loose a shot that dinged off the right post and was then immediately cleared by the Misericordia defense as the Cougars entered halftime with a 1-0 lead. Although Misericordia enjoyed a 9-6 lead in shots at the break, the Judges had a 4-1 advantage in shots on goal.

As has been the pattern during this season, Michelle Savuto ’15 replaced Kofinas for the second period and she was immediately tested. Just minutes into the second half, Sam Helmstetter put a shot on goal that Savuto deflected over the crossbar.

The Judges’ defense, however, could not hold the Cougars’ offense at bay in the second period as they applied consistent pressure on the Brandeis defense. Laura Roney had consecutive quality scoring chances for the Cougars in the 53rd and 55th minute, firing the initial shot high and forcing Savuto to make a spectacular diving save on the second shot.

In the 62nd minute, the Cougars’ offensive onslaught finally resulted in an insurance goal. Erin Roberts drew a foul just outside the top center of the box, resulting in a direct kick. Roney then tucked a shot inside the right post to give Misericordia a 2-0 lead.

Brandeis earned several free kicks in the closing minutes of the game but the Judges were only able to convert one into a shot on goal as Misericordia completed their shutout. The shutout was the Cougars’ 15th of the season.

While the loss is disappointing for the Judges, they will return all but two players next year as they try to improve upon their record-setting season. Kofinas and Zoe Siegel ’13 both end their Brandeis careers with 47 wins and two NCAA tournament appearances in 2010 and 2012.

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