MIT Women's Soccer Knocks Off Smith College 1-0
The MIT Women's Soccer Team (10-6, 5-3) blanked Smith College (8-6-1, 5-2-1) on Saturday with a 1-0 victory.
Smith was sitting in second place in the NEWMAC conference heading into the match. The loss drops Smith to third place and pushes MIT into a tie for fourth with Wellesley College.
With the victory MIT hit 10 regular season wins for the first time since 2002. In the 22-year history of the program only three teams (1992, 2000, 2001) have reached double digits wins faster.
The win over Smith also marked the sixth time this year MIT has bounced back from a loss with a victory. MIT fell in a tough 2-1 loss to Wellesley College last Tuesday before upending Smith on Saturday. MIT has yet to lose back-to-back games this year.
Senior captain Kat Vater made six saves in the win to preserve her fifth clean sheet of the year. Kat's toughest challenge came in the 20th minute when a loose ball bounced toward the goal line in a jumble of players, but she was able to lunge through the traffic and secure the ball. She also withstood some late Smith pressure to shore up the win. The shutout was the 17th of her career, second all-time at MIT.
Last week MIT suffered the sad loss of junior Karen Davie for the year after she went down with a season-ending knee injury against Wellesley College. The final verdict is still out on the injury, but the team is counting on Karen to return as a defensive anchor in the future. Without Karen, MIT moved to a 3-5-2
alignment against Smith. The backline of senior captain Mary Harding, senior Chi-Fong Wang and sophomore Jodie Wu performed great in the absence of their defensive mate and helped rack up the team's sixth overall shutout. Senior Andrea Staid also started the game at outside back before returning to her
familiar flank midfield role.
Playing with five players in the midfield, MIT was able to dominate possession all game long against Smith. After returning to the midfield in the second half, Dre was a constant threat with her usual combination of speed, toughness and a powerful leg. Outside midfielder junior Janine Hopmans also contributed with her excellent ability to possess the ball and play well timed through balls to the corner flag. J also made it difficult for Smith with her trademark central runs on the ball. Sophomore Andrea Bradshaw started her fifth game of the year on the right flank, showing her usual bursts of speed and hustle.
MIT's central midfield stalwarts, senior Ashleigh Leonard and freshman Katie Pesce, continued to click, controlling the center of the field and helping MIT keep possession for the lion's share of the match. Ash was dominant in the air, as always, getting under almost every goal kick and punt and winning most of the
50-50 balls in her area. Katie continued to be a thorn in the side of the opposition, muscling Smith off the ball whenever they tried to posses through the midfield. Both Ash and Katie were able to spring the MIT attack with through balls throughout the game and Katie also ripped several shots from distance.
Senior captain Mary started off the game as a holding midfielder in the 3-5-2 alignment, anchoring the midfield and starting MIT's attack from her deep role. In the second half, after Mary pushed back to her familiar central back role, freshman Julia Roberts came off the bench to secure the holding role in front
of the backline. Julia was very effective at collecting loose balls and distributing the ball amongst her teammates.
Freshman striker Liz Theurer collected the game's only goal, her NEWMAC-leading seventh game-winning goal of the season. Liz now has nine goals on the year and a total of 21 points. Her strike partner junior Amy Ludlum sprung Liz on the breakaway game winner with a perfectly weighted through ball just outside the area. The assist pushed Amy's season point total to 39, which continues to top the NEWMAC conference. Liz and Amy were particularly in synch against Smith. They provided each other with several other scoring chances that were thwarted by the Smith goaltender. However, the one successful combination proved to be
enough to take the match. With a combined 60 points, Amy and Liz are the highest scoring duo in the conference and it doesn't look like anyone is catching them.
***Player of the Match***
On a day when the whole team pulled together as a cohesive unit to get a crucial NEWMAC victory, the Player of the Match award goes to everyone and "The Wall" in particular. With Smith upping the pressure late in the game and MIT holding onto a 1-0 lead, the team was faced with a free kick on goal from just
under 20 yards out. The five players in the wall set up inside the box stood their ground and absorbed a driven ball that was rocketed toward them and redirected out of danger. The late stand let some of the air out of Smith's sails and helped MIT hold tight for the remaining time on the clock.
On Tuesday MIT wraps up the regular season with a match against NEWMAC conference opponent Babson College. The game is set for 3 p.m. in Cambridge, Mass. The contest is the last regular season home game for five seniors: Kat Vater, Mary Harding, Chi-Fong Wang, Andrea Staid and Ashleigh Leonard. MIT will
celebrate Senior Day and honor the graduating class before the game.