Women’s soccer to host NCAA Regional

MIDDLEBURY — After a pair of dramatic victories at Williams College this past weekend gave the Middlebury College women’s soccer team the NESCAC playoff championship, the Panthers were rewarded with one of the top seeds for the NCAA Division III tournament on Monday and will host an NCAA Regional this weekend.
The 15-1-2 Panthers, who were ranked No. 4 before they knocked off previously undefeated No. 2 Williams, 1-0 in the NESCAC final on Sunday, will open their NCAA quest by taking on Maine-Farmington (at 8-12 an upset winner in its conference) at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
At 1:30 p.m. on Saturday Ithaca (13-2-3) will meet Rochester (9-7-1). Saturday’s winners will square off at 1 p.m. on Sunday in the NCAA Regional final. If the favored Panthers make it through this weekend there is a good chance they, as the highest-ranked team in their quadrant of the bracket, would host a Sectional on Nov. 17 and 18. Sectional winners advance to the Final Four in Greensboro, N.C., on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
Against Williams (15-1-2 and the defending league and NCAA champion) on this past Sunday the Panthers avenged their only loss of the season, 1-0 at Williams on Oct. 23.
Williams controlled play early, but scoring chances were few. Williams had the first, but Panther goalie Ursula Alwang (three saves) dove to her right to punch away Aspen Pierson’s left-footed blast from 24 yards out.
Play evened out and Middlebury had the best chance of the half. With 11:21 remaining. Ellie Greenberg broke in toward the right post with an Eph defender on her left hip, but Williams goalie Olivia Barnhill came out to slide and deny Greenberg’s right-footed bid from 15 yards out for her only save.
At the start of the second half, the Ephs recorded the first three shots, but all from long range. Only one posed any danger, a Natalie Turner-Wyatt bid from the left side that sailed high.
Middlebury then pressed, and Greenberg scored in the 68th minute. Eliza Van Voorhis fed Simone Ameer to the right of the Eph box, and Ameer relayed toward the goal front to Greenberg, who cut in from the left, beat a defender and Barnhill to the waist-high serve and volleyed it back into the right side.
The Panthers locked down on defense the rest of the way. The Ephs were credited with 15 shots to the Panthers’ six, but many of the bids came from long range and could be fairly described as hopeful.
THE MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE women’s soccer team beat Amherst on penalty kicks this past Saturday and blanked Williams, 1-0, on Sunday in Williamstown, Mass., to claim the NESCAC title. The Panthers will host an NCAA Regional this weekend. Photo by Kris Dufour/Williams College
It took a miraculous comeback in a Saturday penalty-kick shootout against third-seed Amherst (13-2-2) for Middlebury to advance to Sunday’s final.
Regulation ended at 1-1 courtesy of powerful long-range strikes from Mammoth Rubii Tamen late in the first half and Panther Olivia Miller at 28:40 in the second half. Play was largely even, with Alwang stopping six shots (including tipping a Tamen bid over the crossbar in overtime), Mammoth goalie Antonia Tammaro denying four Panther bids, and each team earning three corner kicks.
After two scoreless overtimes it came down to penalty kicks. Coach Peter Kim subbed taller backup goalie Eva Shaw in for Alwang. Two of the first three Amherst kickers converted, while two Panthers missed the net and Tammaro denied the other.
With two penalty kick rounds left in the regulation round of five, the Panthers trailed, 2-0. To stay alive they needed to make both while Amherst missed twice. Freshman Magnolia Moskun then converted the first of four straight penalties for Middlebury, and Shaw moved to her left to bat away Maeve McNamara’s waist-high potential game-winner.
Amanda Dafonte drilled the ball home to keep Middlebury alive in the fifth round, and then Shaw dove to her right to make an incredible save on Laura Greer’s low bid, which was about six inches off the ground and six inches inside the left post.
Both Amherst’s Lexy Cook and Middlebury’s Clare Robinson were successful in the first extra round. In the decisive seventh round Panther Sara DiCenso buried her kick. Shaw then again dove right to get her hand on a shot ticketed for the lower left corner, and the Panthers celebrated by burying her in pile of teammates.
Panther keepers Alwang and Shaw were named the NESCAC Co-Players of the Week.

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