Women’s Soccer Advances To Semifinals vs. WellesleyBy Melissa Hart
With two conference wins in the last week of regular season play, the MIT women’s soccer team secured the third seed in the NEWMAC tournament with a 5-3-1 conference record (10-5-2 overall). Their standing earned them a home game for the quarterfinal round this past weekend, which they won 1-0.
MIT hosted the sixth seeded Coast Guard Academy on Sunday, Nov. 3, at Steinbrenner Stadium in a grudge match. Last time the the two teams met, Coast Guard came from behind to beat the Engineers 2-1. In that game, MIT’s leading scorer, Shirley Chan ’04, sustained a season-ending knee injury in the opening minutes. MIT was ready this time for Coast Guard’s physical game and despite a few other injury-absences, MIT took control early on.
A number of the younger players, in particular, stepped up for MIT. Sophomore Lydia A. Helliwell was both a solid presence defensively and a spark on the team’s attack. Freshman Meghan E. O’Kane was outstanding on the front line, relentlessly working the Coast Guard defenders while sophomore defender Ai-ris Yonekura denied the Coast Guard attack.
In the 36th minute of play, Helliwell delivered a ball to junior Candace Wilson who deftly shook the last Coast Guard defender. On a breakaway, Wilson finished with veteran composure putting the ball past the keeper.
Though MIT dominated play, taking 15 shots to Coast Guard’s six, no more goals would be scored. One would be enough to send MIT to the conference semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 9. Keeper Connie Yang ’03 had five saves for the shutout.
MIT will take on the second-seeded Wellesley College Blue in semifinals. MIT and Wellesley drew during the regular season 0-0 after a hard fought match. If MIT wins, they will play Sunday at 1 p.m. against the winner of the Wheaton (#1) versus Smith College (#4) game.
Blockbuster finish seals MIT win
Last Tuesday night, MIT traveled to Worcester. The match, a battle of Engineers, would decide much for both teams. MIT needed the win to secure a home match in the NEWMAC playoffs; WPI had to win or tie to reserve a spot in the NEWMAC tournament. It was a cold, though fortunately windless, evening when the two teams took the field.
MIT dominated play, but WPI would prove dangerous on a number of counterattack occasions.
Outstanding play by MIT’s keeper, Yang, thwarted WPI’s attack. The WPI keeper, who was considerably more active throughout the game, was also solid in net and stole back a number of Engineer opportunities.
The game remained scoreless and MIT grew frustrated as, despite domination, they could not convert. Overtime seemed inevitable until, with 20 seconds left, MIT had a throw-in from deep in the WPI end. MIT flooded the penalty box as Monica F. Morrison ’04 sent a super-throw arcing towards the goal. Sarah E. Mendelowtiz ’03 made first contact, flicking the ball with her head. Rebecca E. Clinton ’03 worked to gain control of it for MIT but could not get the shot off and so sent it back into the fray.
The ensuing scramble ended when a shot from Helliwell was deflected off a WPI defender and was met by the formidable foot of MIT’s career scoring record holder, Kelli A. Griffin ’03. Griffin fired a final and forceful shot to the right corner for the goal. With only three seconds remaining in the game, MIT erupted in celebration. Seventeen seconds of team determination had sealed the win and secured a home seed for MIT. (WPI ended up making the conference tournament anyway, as the eighth seed, due to the results of other conference contests that day.)
MIT takes Mount Holyoke
MIT’s game against Mount Holyoke had been postponed due to torrential rains. The teams met Sunday, Oct. 26 on a soggy field with both salivating for a win. MIT’s determination and skill proved too much for the Holyoke Lyons and though the game was scoreless at halftime, MIT would soon be on the board.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, senior striker Mendelowitz took the ball down the right flank and served a strong cross into the box. The keeper came off her line and got a piece of the cross, but O’Kane was there to clean up the keeper’s mistake and finish with an emphatic volley. Everybody on the MIT side breathed a sigh of relief after the goal.
In the 79th minute, a fabulous one-touch sequence involving Wilson and O’Kane ended in goal by Morrison. That insurance goal fed MIT's confidence and for the remainder of the game Holyoke could not muster any attack. Senior defenders Clinton and Sheila E. Saroglou were solid in the backfield for the shutout, as was Yang, who had four solid saves in the match.
MIT will face Wellesley College on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Wheaton College in the semifinal match of the NEWMAC tournament at 1:30 p.m.