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Women’s Soccer Weak In Loss Against Smith

By Caitlin L. Murray

Friday, while the Red Sox’s post-season was coming to a sudden, anticlimactic end, the MIT women’s soccer team put in an equally dismal performance, losing to Smith College 2-0. This loss puts them squarely in seventh place in the NEWMAC standings, with only Mount Holyoke and the Coast Guard Academy below them.

Smith took control from the opening whistle, with their star forward Catherine Peo leading the onslaught. Seven minutes into the game from fifteen yards out, she launched the ball across the net and into the corner, past MIT goaltender Katherine A. Vater ’07.

Five minutes later, with MIT still on its back, Smith scored again, giving the spectators a clear vision of what was in store for the Engineers for rest of the match. On a pin-point perfect assist from Brittoni Famous, Smith’s Estafi Alvarez snuck the ball past Vater into the far corner of the net.

MIT never recovered. Not only did they not score, there were only three shots by MIT in the entire first half. The Engineers were consistently able to strip the ball from Smith but then seemed to forget what to do with it. They are, to a player, aggressive and indefatigable, and in a one-on-one competition, MIT would come out on top. Unfortunately, they meshed poorly, and regardless of how effective any member of the team was at securing the ball, it was inevitably booted away on a bad pass seconds later.

After halftime, as the 50-odd spectators were drenched in a sudden downpour, Smith took advantage of their lead and put all their resources into defense. Amy S. Ludlum ’08, literally the team’s only scorer, was double-teamed and removed from the equation. Without her, the Engineers were severely handicapped.

Though the Tech defense recovered well and protected the net for the remainder of the game, the offense lacked the patience and precision to control the ball long enough to launch a strong attack. The Engineers had only one shot throughout the second half.

MIT’s best chance to score came midway through the second period when Ludlum shook her marks and charged down the field on her own. The Smith goaltender, Lauren Bachtel, came out of the net and challenged Ludlum. In the resulting collision, Ludlum lost the ball, but Bachtel was injured and had to be removed from the game. After that, Smith put even more effort into covering Ludlum, and the Engineers went the rest of the game without a chance to score.

The Engineers were shut out even though the Smith goaltenders had only three saves.

Friday’s game was not an isolated incident. Of the six goals the team has scored over the course of the season, every one has been scored by Ludlum. MIT has had less than half the number of shots on goal as their opponents (41 compared to 95) and has scored half as many goals (6 compared to 12). The latter ratio would be significantly worse were it not for the undaunted efforts of Vater, who is second in the conference in save percentage and already holds the MIT record in that category. Only a junior, she is already fourth on MIT’s all-time saves list.

With five conference games remaining in the season, the Engineers have a chance to improve their standings. However, to do so would require kick-starting an offense that has been in a serious slump this season.