Women’s soccer gets bounce-back victory

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College women’s soccer team picked up a much-needed victory on Tuesday, 1-0 over visiting Plattsburgh.
The Panthers, who reached the NCAA Division III semifinal round a year ago, were coming off a 3-0 NESCAC loss at Connecticut College on Saturday that had dropped them to 2-2, 0-2 in the league. Earlier, they had fallen at home to league foe Amherst, 1-0, after surrendering an own goal while outshooting the Jeffs, 18-6.
To put their 3-2 record in perspective, Coach Peter Kim’s perennial NESCAC contenders finished 17-2-3 in 2013.
Kim said the Panthers were aware Tuesday’s game vs. a Plattsburgh team that entered with a 4-1 record presented a proverbial must-win situation.
“It was, for sure, and everybody knew it,” he said. “We were all on the same page. And it was a unified front coming into this match.”
Sophomore striker Adrianna Gildner came off the bench to provide a beautiful goal with 10:20 to go after taking a nice feed from senior left back Molly Parizeau.
But Gildner’s finishing touch just capped a game in which all the Panthers provided the foundation.
The Panther midfield, notably junior Hannah Robinson and sophomore Katherine Hobbs in the middle, prevailed in the 50-50 duels and distributed well to help Middlebury earn a 17-7 advantage in shots; the defense of Parizeau and senior Moria Sloan outside and senior Sophia Kligler and sophomore Amanda Haik in the middle controlled the Cardinal forwards; and the Panthers, especially Gildner and junior Jamie Soroka, pressured the Plattsburgh backline.
“We came in to win our battles and we did,” Kim said. “They did a great job. It was a no-frills game plan. Go in and win the battles and win the game.”
In the first half, Cardinal goalie Danielle Schmidt (11 saves) was pressured early, stopping Soroka in the first minute, and late, snaring a Gildner drive at the horn. In between, Soroka, Robinson, sophomore middie Grace Woroch, senior middie Carter Talgo and sophomore striker Krystina Reynolds all created chances. Plattsburgh had one fairly dangerous opportunity, but middie Lindsey Bushey’s long-range bid sailed wide left.
Plattsburgh came out strong in the second half, and the Panthers were fortunate BFA-Fairfax product Anissa Hartman fired high from close range after a Middlebury turnover in the 11th minute. But the Panthers soon regained their poise.
“They came out with a good game plan in the second half and pressed us pretty hard. And for a second we had to adjust to the new speed of play,” Kim said. “But within a short amount of time we did.”
Robinson had another good chance, and with 14 minutes to go Gildner fired just high and wide left from the right side of the box. But she made no mistake from nearly the same spot four minutes later. Parizeau carried over midfield and sent Gildner into the box, and Gildner’s perfectly placed 18-yard shot into the upper left corner gave Schmidt no chance.
Kim hinted Gildner, who has not started a game this fall, might see more action.
“It was time for her,” he said.
Six minutes later, Woroch sent sophomore Amanda Hotveldt alone in on Schmidt from the left side, but the well-positioned goalie denied the five-yard bid. With the Panthers controlling possession, Plattsburgh did not develop a chance to tie the game. Panther goalie Kate Reinmuth stopped three shots, including one solid diving save.
Kim acknowledged not all has gone smoothly this fall — although many key players return, the Panthers did lose their leading scorer and starters at central midfield and central defense and in goal.
But Kim said he sees potential, if the Panthers “just keep heading the way we’re headed. We’re thankful for the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. We had a couple bumpy ones, but that’s OK, we’ll be better for it. We’re making a new team. I’m confident this team will continue to rise over the course of the season.”
A key in that process for the Panthers will be establishing their own identity, Kim said.
“We just have to solidify ourselves as a new team. Last year is gone. It was a great year. Now it’s time to assert our own personality on it and have it be these players’ team,” Kim said. “The shirts get very heavy when you go to the final four, so it’s a matter of shaking that off and making the shirts your own.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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