Sports

Last-minute goal ends women’s soccer’s undefeated Ivy start

Top-ranked goalkeeper Etzel ’19 allows first goal in five games in match’s final moments

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, October 3, 2016

Megan Grant ’19 flees Columbia defenders Saturday at Stevenson-Pincince Field. Grant led the Bears with four shots but was unable to find the back of the net in the shutout loss to the Lions.

After a week of preparing for its second Ivy League matchup of the season, the women’s soccer team looked to clinch a pivotal win for its 2016 campaign Saturday against Columbia. But the Bears (5-2-3, 1-1-0 Ivy) were unable to capitalize on the momentum from their confidence-building performances of the past few weeks, falling to the Lions (5-4-2, 2-0-0 Ivy) 1-0 in a game that went down to the wire.

Heading into the matchup, Brown looked exceedingly strong in both non-conference play and in its first league game — a 1-0 victory over Dartmouth. Star goalie Christine Etzel ’19 had notched a staggering eight clean-sheets on the season and entered the game as the top-ranked goalkeeper in the NCAA in save percentage, shutouts and goals against average. By many metrics, such as team shutouts, Brown’s back four had been one of the strongest overall defenses in the Ivy League this season.

In addition, the Bears’ offense, which faced difficulty scoring earlier in the season, had begun to find its form and cohesion, with strong performances and leadership from veteran captains Jaclyn Alois ’17, Carly Gould ’17 and Maclaine Lehan ’18 in the last few contests.

Thus, as the starting whistle blew to start Saturday’s match, the Bears seemed poised for another knock-out performance to maintain their undefeated Ivy-League status.

“You only get to play every Ivy once, so we knew we had to come in with a high level of focus and energy,” Etzel said. “Leading up to the game, we were trying to get used to the weather because it was rainy all week. Anything can happen during the game, so we just wanted to come out and look to connect with each other and play our own game.”

Unfortunately for the Bears, despite 88 solid minutes of play, a last-minute chip-in goal by Columbia’s Emma Anderson all but ended the team’s hopes for the win. Despite multiple shots at Columbia goalie Allison Spencer by Megan Grant ’19 and Celia Story ’19 and four saves by Etzel — three coming late in the second half — Brown was unable to find the final piece of the puzzle: a desperately needed goal.

The close match was a physical one. Heading into Saturday’s matchup, neither team had conceded an Ivy League game, and more than just pride was on the line for both sides. With a win, either team could control its destiny in the race for the conference crown.

Accordingly, both teams displayed a sense of urgency. Brown and Columbia combined for a staggering total of 20 fouls over the course of the contest, with 13 coming in the first half alone. Among those 20 was a yellow card for rookie midfielder Abby Carchio ’20, which she received just over two minutes into the second half.

But despite the fight displayed by Bruno, the scoreboard read 1-0 Columbia as the final whistle blew, much to the dismay of the many Brown fans in attendance. The loss was also difficult for the players themselves, with a few players shedding tears after the loss.

“We really went out there and tried to give it our all,” Etzel said. “Sometimes things don’t work out the way you would like them to, but we again just tried to play our own game.”

The Bears will continue their season on the road this Saturday against their third Ivy League opponent, Princeton. The team will look to avenge last year’s 4-0 loss against the Tigers, in an effort to both rebound from Saturday’s harsh defeat and build momentum for the rest of its season.

“We were definitely frustrated after the game that we didn’t get the result we wanted, but we have to look forward,” Etzel said. “Our season definitely isn’t over, and it’s not going to get any easier from here on out. We’re going to stay positive and keep working hard because we still have some big, tough games ahead of us.”