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Anchored by eight seniors, women's soccer finishes third in Ivy League

The Bears boasted four All-Ivy second team selections after an improved league record

After a disappointing second-to-last finish in the Ivy League last season, the women’s soccer team was on a mission this year to improve its conference standing. Led by eight seniors, the Bears played tenaciously through the fall to move up four spots and capture third place in the Ancient Eight.

“We knew we were competitive in 2012 but didn’t get the results,” said Head Coach Phil Pincince. “We wanted to continue to move forward in the Ivy League ranks, and so we had to become bigger, stronger and more athletic.”

The team ended with a 10-6-1, 4-2-1 Ivy record, bested only by Harvard and Penn. On their way to the bronze, the Bears also finished in the top half of the league in points, goals, assists, goals allowed and saves. And the squad had four players named Second Team All-Ivy: goalie Mary Catherine Barrett ’14, back Annie Gillen ’15 and forwards Chloe Cross ’15 and Mika Siegelman ’14. Midfielder Charlotte Beach ’16 earned All-Ivy Honorable Mention.


Offensive rebalancing

The team changed its offensive setup in the offseason — adding an extra forward to its front line and involving its midfielders more in attacking plays — and the results showed, with Bruno scoring 20 goals, up from 15 last year.

“Having more players on the front line helped us get more people on attack,” Cross said. “We put two players on the wings so we could exploit the flanks of the other team.”

Cross and Siegelman led the Bears in their offensive drive. Cross scored seven goals, three of which were game-winners. Siegelman tacked on three goals throughout the season, all of them game-winning.

“This season we played our own game,” Siegelman said. “We had a system in mind and didn’t adjust to other teams. We had more confidence in ourselves and just wanted to play our own style.”


Two is better than one

On the other end of the field, the squad employed a dual-goalie system all year long, with Amber Bledsoe ’14 playing for the first half of each game and Barrett taking the second half.

“When they came in as freshmen, they worked so hard that there was no separation (in their play) at the beginning of the season,” Pincince said. “We started out that system and it just seemed to work out.”

The pair allowed only 19 goals all season long and only a single goal per game in Ivy League play. Barrett led the Ivies with a save percentage of 84 percent in conference games.

Barrett said playing only one half was “really not that different” from playing a whole game.

“You still have to keep the ball out of the net,” Barrett said. But “playing in the second half has let me sit back and observe the first half. I get to pick out tendencies.”

Bledsoe said splitting games “worked out in the best way possible.”

“It’s worked out quite naturally,” Bledsoe said. “Our friendship off the field helped the situation and made it even more exciting.”

Barrett said the duo’s chemistry has made a “really healthy dynamic.”

“She’s one of my best friends,” Barrett said. “She’s pushed me so much and taught me a lot. We wanted to be the best goalkeeping team we could be for our team, and I never wanted to see her fail in the hopes that I’d get more time.”


The back line

The pair was assisted by a defensive unit usually consisting of Gillen, Sarah Moody ’16, Emily Wingrove ’14 and a fourth player rotating among Anne Moody ’16, Mackenzie Kligmann ’16 and Jaclyn Alois ’17 — a group Siegelman called “an incredible back line.”

“The offense starts with the defense,” Siegelman said. “We played teams with great offenses and the way to beat them is to shut them down.”

Wingrove said the defense’s success depended on “a lot of communication.”

“We definitely had a few rough games, but we learned to pick up our marks together,” Wingrove said. “It’s something that comes with practice, but we learned what to expect of each other.”

Gillen said Brown had a “more mature back line” this year.

“We’ve been working together and grew a lot since last year,” Gillen said. “We’ve worked a lot on communication and achieved a higher level of fitness.”


To higher peaks

As the Bears look forward to next season, Sarah Moody said the team’s biggest challenge is filling the shoes of this year’s seniors.

“Our seniors are somewhat irreplaceable because they’re a great group of girls,” Moody said. “But every year a new group of freshmen comes in, and next year we’re going to have a really good class coming.”

Pincince said the seven incoming freshmen will create a “different” team.

“What we have returning plus the dynamic recruiting class will allow us to continue to move forward strong,” Pincince said.

Cross, who is expected to assume even more of a leadership role next season, said the team has a “lot of talented soccer players.”

“All the girls will be able to step up to the challenge and be successful,” Cross said. “We lost a lot with this senior class, and we just have to rally together to create a presence on the field.”

Wingrove said she believes next year’s team will be able to move forward, in part due to the current seniors instilling a mindset of “working in the offseason.”

“Whether it’s putting in those extra touches or staying after practice, I think we (seniors) put a lot of passion back into the Brown women’s soccer program,” Wingrove said. “And I think we raised expectations for the Brown women’s soccer program.”


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