SAN ANTONIO, Texas — The finest season in the history of the Middlebury College women’s soccer program came to an end on Friday afternoon, when the Panthers lost to top-ranked Trinity University, 2-1, in an NCAA Division III semifinal played in Trinity’s home town of San Antonio.
Trinity (25-0-2) took the lead in the 19th minute on a Michelle Lanier goal during an evenly played first half. But the 17-2-3 Panthers equalized in the 35th minute on senior Scarlett Kirk’s 17th goal of the season and 48th of her career, a mark that places her second on the program’s all-time list.
Hannah Robinson and Adrianna Gildner both earned assists on the play. Robinson sent Gildner cleanly into the right side of the Trinity box, and Gildner served to the onrushing Kirk near the penalty stripe. Kirk one-timed the ball with her left foot high into the upper left corner. The Panthers’ other best bid in the half probably came from junior Jamie Soroka, whose 15-yard bid from the left side was snared by Trinity goalie Devan Osegueda.
Trinity capitalized on pressure in the eighth minute of the second half. Panther goalie Elizabeth Foody came off her line to dive on a ball served from the right side, but Trinity’s Hannah Hommel tapped it past her near the right post, turned and looped a shot inside the far post.
Trinity maintained an edge in possession for much of the second half, but the Panthers had chances to become the first team this season to score twice vs. the Tigers.
Midway through the half, Kirk’s high serve from the left side bounced through a knot of players near the left post to open right middie Carter Talgo about 15 feet off the right post. But by the time the ball came back down to where Talgo could shoot, a Trinity defender had recovered and blocked the shot wide right.
Trinity’s ball control translated to few chances, although Foody did well to snare one corner kick in the half’s 29th minute, and a minute later she came off her line to dive on a pass and break up a play. The Panthers also were fortunate an open Tiger could not quite get a foot on a serve from the right side a couple minutes later.
The Panthers ratcheted up the pressure in the waning minutes, but could not convert. Julia Favorito shot a loose ball high and wide, and at 1:20 Gildner got her head on a Favorito free kick from the left side, but could not square up the bid and it sailed wide right. At about 0:25, Soroka served one last time from the right side, but the Trinity goalie beat Kirk to the ball to effectively conclude the Panthers’ season.
Trinity outshot the Panthers, 16-10, but Middlebury landed more shots on goal: Osegueda finished with five saves and Foody with two. Trinity became the first team this season two score twice on Middlebury and Foody.
This season Coach Peter Kim’s Panthers set a program record for wins and became the first Middlebury women’s soccer team to reach the final four.
Six seniors will graduate, five starters — Foody, an all-American in goal; Kirk; Favorito, a center middie who was the NESCAC Player of the Year; standout central defender Lindsay Kingston, a Champlain Valley Union High School graduate; and left middie Sarah Noble — and reserve defender Melissa Garrett.